How the internet is altering your mind

A new book claims the amount of time we spend on the internet is changing the very structure of our brains – damaging our ability to think and to learnLike nearly all the Guardian’s content, what you are about to read was – and this will hardly be a revelation – written using a computer connected to the internet. Obviously, this had no end of benefits, mostly pertaining to the relative ease of my research and the simplicity of contacting the people whose thoughts and opinions you are about to read. Modern communications technology is now so familiar as to seem utterly banal, but set against my clear memories of a time before it arrived, there is still something magical about, say, optimistically sending an email to a scientist in southern California, and then talking to him within an hour.But then there is the downside. The tool I use to write not only serves as my word processor and digital postbox, but can also double as – among other things – a radio, TV, news-wire portal and shop. Thus, as I put together the following 2,000-ish words, I was entertained in my more idle moments by no end of distractions. I watched YouTube videos of Manic Street Preachers, Yoko Ono, and the Labour leadership candidates. Via Amazon, I bought a £4.99 teach-yourself-to-spell DVD-Rom for my son, which turned out to be rubbish. And at downright stupid hours of the day – 6am, or almost midnight – I once again checked my email on either my phone or computer. Naturally, my inbox was usually either exactly how I had left it, or newly joined by something that could easily have waited – though for some reason, this never seems to register.

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