Tech’s Mind Games

Rosalene Bowler
October 12, 2022

“Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” ― Christian Lous Lange

Technology is a wonderful thing. It brings fun videos to your attention, makes it easy to contact loved ones, and allows you to look up anything from a recipe to a mental disorder in 10 seconds.

In fact, there are studies that show how tech use helps the elderly to exercise their brains. “For example, older individuals suffering from cognitive decline could use the internet to access information to help them remain independent longer. . . [Functional] MRI research tracking neural activity during simulated internet searches suggests that simply searching online may represent a form of mental exercise that can strengthen neural circuits.” (Small)

But, like most things in life, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

Potential harmful effects of extensive screen time and technology use include heightened attention-deficit symptoms, impaired emotional and social intelligence, technology addiction, social isolation, impaired brain development, and disrupted sleep.” (Small)

Loss of sleep is more serious than a simple pair of baggy eyes. It can increase the risk of anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders, and is “associated with lower overall brain activity, which can impact physical safety, and weight management.” (“Technology's Effects on Our Brains & Bodies.”)

Further, the constant ability to “google” something has decreased our capacity to retain information, as shown in this fascinating study:

 “In one study (Sparrow, Liu, & Wegner, 2011), participants were asked to type 40 trivia facts. Half of the participants were told the computer would save their work, while the other half were told the computer would erase what they had typed. Next, all participants were asked to write down as many of the 40 trivia facts they could recall from memory. The group who had been told the computer would erase their document performed much better on the task than the group who had been told the computer would save what they had typed. This phenomenon of decreased long-term and working memory is often called the "Google Effect." When we consider that some researchers believe cognitive conditions like Alzheimer's disease could be associated with failing to maximize our cognitive capacities, the Google Effect becomes alarming. (“Technology's Effects on Our Brains & Bodies.”)

So, how does one enjoy the benefits of tech without falling prey to the harm it can cause?

 Here are 3 ways to help limit tech’s influence over you.

1.   If you enjoy watching videos online, turn off “auto-play,” which is often the default setting on many platforms. This will make it easier for you to choose when to stop watching.

2.   You can also consider leaving your device outside your room at night, or perhaps turn WiFi off completely while you are doing your homework, to avoid temptation and distraction.

3.   You can even set reminders on your phone to take breaks and do different activities, like playing sports or spending time with friends and family. (Koopman-Verhoeff)

Take 5 minutes today to implement these changes. You’ll get better sleep, get more exercise, and have more time to spend with the people you love. Who doesn’t want that?

“Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition, and myth frame our response.” ― Arthur Schlesinger


Koopman-Verhoeff, M. Elisabeth, et al. “Mind Games: Technology and the Developing Teenage Brain.” Frontiers for Young Minds,

Small, Gary W, et al. “Brain Health Consequences of Digital Technology Use
.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, Les Laboratoires Servier, June 2020,

Sparrow B, Liu J, Wegner DM. Google effects on memory: Cognitive consequences of having information at our fingertips. Science. 2011;333 :776-778.

“Technology's Effects on Our Brains & Bodies.” Technology's Effects on Our Brains & Bodies - Relationship IQ Blog | Boone Center for the Family | Pepperdine University, 11 Aug. 2020,

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