How Your Phone Is Changing Your Brain


How your phone is changing your brain

Technology is an extraordinary invention (I use it any day to run this blog!). We have many all we could ever need to know, imagine, and spin extraordinary about during a fingertips.

In fact, according to former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, we collectively emanate as many information in dual days as has been combined from a emergence of civilization until 2003. That’s flattering amazing!

However, there’s a observant that with good energy comes good responsibility. We’re usually commencement to know that total record can have a downside. One critical regard is what record can do to a brains.

Screen Addiction

Just as a chairman can spin dependant to sugar, alcohol, drugs, or countless other substances or behaviors, people can simply spin dependant to technology.

The Reward Feedback Loop

Dopamine motivates us to find out new information and silken experiences. In inlet this is an critical function. Seeking food, water, shelter, companionship, and other necessities of life keeps us alive.

In fact, a expectation of a prerogative is some-more motivating than a prerogative itself. A investigate found that destroying a dopamine in rats’ smarts (the partial that encouraged them to seek) caused a rats to starve to genocide within inches of food.

Another partial of this complement is a pleasure-experiencing means that happens in a opioid system. Dopamine motivates us to seek; a opioid complement causes compensation (temporarily pausing a seeking).

This prerogative also encourages some-more seeking, and a cycle continues. We find food, it tastes good, we are encouraged to find food again.

How Biology Short Circuits Into Addiction

What happens with record (in particular, smartphones) is unequivocally contingent on this feedback loop. We find information, we get it (and are confident temporarily), and afterwards we are encouraged to find some-more information.

Unlike with food though, there is no earthy feeling of being “full” from technology. If we’re full from a meal, we aren’t as encouraged to find food (though we will when we feel inspired again). With record a compensation is reduction gratifying and a enterprise to find becomes stronger.

One some-more thing to cruise about here: We also have to cruise that food is critical for participation while what we do online isn’t. So it’s good to some border to be “addicted” to food (at slightest a right kind that creates a confident full feeling and improves health), yet when we spin dependant to a prerogative feedback loop of amicable media, emails, content messages, etc., that’s not profitable to us.

How to Know If You’re Phone-Addicted

Of course, nothing of us like to cruise we’re dependant to a phones. We demeanour during them given we cruise that that e-mail, text, or essay is important. That is loyal some of a time, yet there are some tell-tale signs of when we are in control of a phone use, and when it is in control of us.

According to, some symptoms of record obsession to demeanour for are:

  • compulsive checking of notifications and content messages
  • constant updating of amicable media accounts
  • a feeling of euphoria when regulating technology
  • disinterest in things that don’t embody technology
  • social withdrawal
  • anxiety or turmoil when incompetent to use technology

I commend several of these habits in myself. How about you?


The some-more we use record in a lives a reduction information we store in a memories. Think about it — many of us haven’t memorized a phone series or found a approach to a plcae yet GPS in years.

Because of technology, we don’t have to store information in a smarts yet usually have to remember where to find that information. A 2017 investigate on smartphones and discernment found that record does indeed means this “memory externalization” (but a researchers also counsel that a Rolodex did too).

Maybe memory externalization isn’t always a bad thing, yet when faith on record keeps us from training and remembering from a sourroundings and experiences, that could be a problem. For example, relying on GPS instead of training how to navigate could have critical consequences when a GPS isn’t working.

Rapid Fire Information

Information overkill also creates it formidable to form long-term memories. We have so many information going into a smarts on a daily basement that we can’t keep adult with it. (Moms live in this zone!)

Generally we can filter out a insignificant information and place a critical information into a long-term memory for protected keeping. These long-term memories figure a thoughts (and a practice in turn).

With information from a smartphones, laptops, etc. entrance into a smarts during fast speed, it can’t interpret what’s critical anymore. All of that information cycles into and out of a mind — nothing removing into long-term storage.

Add in distractions and it gets worse. Studies uncover that a mind works improved to emanate long-term memories when we are actively profitable courtesy to what we’re reading or learning, as this essay explains.

In other words, if we’re multitasking or removing rapid-fire information (like in amicable media) a smarts keep diseased memories during best.

Concentration and Cognitive Function

It’s ordinarily suspicion that a courtesy spans are dwindling (perhaps shorter than that of a goldfish!). Whether courtesy spans are indeed timorous or not (it’s debated), it’s usually many some-more formidable to combine on one thing when so many other things are job for attention.

And it’s not usually a use of record that decreases a concentration. It’s a record itself. One investigate found that a tiny participation of a smartphone (even when it’s off) impairs cognitive function. Researchers during a University of Texas resolved that participants were dreaming from their charge given a mind was actively operative to not collect adult a smartphone.

It’s engaging and a tiny concerning all during once… as a mom we have adequate daze going on!


Smartphones and other record don’t usually impact how we think, yet might means mental health issues like anxiety. The constraint to check notifications and updates itself is stressful. Also, fear of blank out if we don’t keep adult with a phones might means stress too.

This isn’t usually in a heads. One divulgence investigate from Korea University found that a ratio of GABA (an anti-anxiety amino acid) to creatine and glutamate correlated to basin and stress as good as a measure of how dependant people were to a internet and their phones. Since GABA is an anti-anxiety amino acid, this is a problem. (Of march this doesn’t meant it is a approach cause, yet engaging to note…)

Social Life

Scientific investigate surrounding how record affects a smarts is still sincerely new yet a few studies we do have are concerning. One investigate out of a University of Michigan found that amicable media use and complacency are related (though it’s misleading that came first). However, amicable media could be fueling a glow of narcissistic behavior.

Some experts trust that a entire use of screens in children prevents children as immature as 5 years aged from noticing and reading others’ emotions. This might means them to be reduction empathetic.

Additionally, yet record can make us feel like we’re some-more connected, we might be some-more alone than ever. A new investigate found that of immature people underneath thirty-five, a whopping 48 percent felt like they had usually one chairman they could disclose in. (In a identical investigate twenty-five years ago respondents pronounced they had 3 confidants.)

This new loneliness is startling deliberation immature people are typically a many amicable group, yet it make clarity when we cruise that socializing online is not a same as IRL (“in genuine life”).

Online we can husband a “brand” by selecting a best photos, standing updates, and hashtags. In genuine life we have quirks, imperfections, and vulnerabilities that are mostly a genuine reason we bond with other people.

How to Find Balance

It can be strenuous to hear all of a downfalls of technology, generally given so many of us are never distant from it. We flattering many run a lives, take cinema of a kids, and get a daily information from smartphones. But really, it’s about balance.

Technology isn’t going anywhere anytime shortly and I’m happy to have it in my life. But we also don’t wish my phone to take me divided from enjoying my family (they’re usually tiny once after all!). We can reap a advantages of record while gripping a drawbacks to a minimum.

Here are some ways that have worked for us as we grow a record government skills:

  • Take a digital day off – Based on a studies I’ve seen even usually a few days divided from record can assistance urge mind power. When we initial started this digital day off we was antsy and kept carrying a incentive to check my phone. Instead, we done a indicate of reading or personification with my kids. Now it’s something we demeanour brazen to any week. we also like that I’m display my kids a improved instance of what it means to have undeviating family time.
  • Turn off notifications – Since a smarts are hardwired to suffer a expectation of rewards, those notifications make it unfit to omit them. Notifications from a smartphone can also miscarry suspicion processes and means us to cruise about irrelevant things. Turning off notifications can make it easier to thoroughness on other things (family, work, amicable events, etc.) yet a stop of texts and other updates.
  • Turn off shade color – If you’re peaceful to take a tiny bit some-more extreme of a step, cruise switching your smartphone (or your child’s tablet) to grayscale. Researchers contend that this helps revoke a prerogative loop of checking a phone. (I’m going to try this one!)
  • Work on an IRL amicable network – Schedule a “date” or a moms’ night out with a crony we haven’t seen in a while. Reach out to new friends too. And of course, make these interactions smartphone-free!
  • Go camping – When detoxing is too tough when you’re during home, cruise going camping. Being out in inlet to digitally detox and can be a good event to be with friends and family. Leaving a digital inclination during home (except one dungeon phone for emergencies) creates a detox easier — no devices, no temptation.
  • Be intentional – So many record use is mindless. Make an effort to be conscious about it and we might notice a outrageous difference. Choose when you’ll use record any day. For example, we might wish to check email usually once or twice a day as Tim Ferriss recommends, or we might wish to put a screens down during 8 pm any night and review instead. You might also wish to leave your phone downstairs during night so we have to get adult before regulating it (better for reduction EMF deviation too).

Bottom Line: Unplug Your Brain

Smartphones can have durability effects on a memories, concentration, cognitive function, and even a amicable lives. But they can also be an implausible apparatus for preparation and staying connected to family and friends. Too many of a good thing isn’t a good thing, so holding a mangle and environment adult bounds around how record is used in a home can make a outrageous disproportion in either it’s damaging or helpful.

This essay was medically reviewed by Amy Shah, MD, Medical Advisor to Genexa by partnership with a Wellness Mama Team. As always, this is not personal medical recommendation and we suggest that we speak with your doctor.

Have we beheld any disastrous effects of record and smartphone use? What has been your experience?


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