The sheer amount of time people now spend "plugged in," consuming media, wired to all kinds of gadgets, is nothing short of staggering. The average time U.S. adults now spend with media (TV, video, the Internet, mobile, etc.) has now hit almost 700 minutes a day — that's an unprecedented 11 hours-plus!
More scientists now believe that this endless time spent with the Internet, cell phones and TV is making us impatient, impulsive, forgetful, unfocused and changing the very way we think and behave.
For instance, scientists argue that all these "message spurts" play to a primitive impulse to respond to immediate opportunities and threats, which excite us and produce a dopamine squirt — that can be addictive. When "unplugged," people feel bored.
People like to think multitasking makes them productive, but the medical research shows it makes them have trouble focusing and stresses them out. For instance, one study found that people interrupted by e-mail reported significantly increased stress compared with those left to focus.
More scientists like Dr. Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School are arguing that our brains desperately need downtime to allow the brain to process experiences and turn them into permanent long-term memories, which is essentially the act of learning. A finding showed that major cross sections of the brain become surprisingly active during such downtime, which is why Dr. Rich argues that, "Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body."
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