Does the internet make you dumber?

Difficulty focusing on something for a long time? Problems with your concentration? Difficult to read a book attentively? Do you have difficulty remembering information? It could all be the world wide web’s fault. When do we remember a piece of text best? When we take it in with concentration and reading slowly, or when we read through it quickly by clicking on words?
Researchers from Iowa State University (North America) had subjects read various articles. Sometimes from A to Z, sometimes after clicking hyperlinks. What turned out? The clicking readers took longer to read the text and also remembered the text less well than the other group. How is that possible?

The malleable brain

Is the Internet Changing Our Brains? Healthy brains change through exercise. In 2008, the University of California conducted a study with inexperienced internet users (50-78 years old) who had to use the internet for an hour every day. After five days, the brain scanner showed that various areas in the brain were activated that previously showed no activity.
The brain makes new cells and connections, a phenomenon scientists call “experience-dependent plasticity.” Plasticity, unlike elasticity, stores changes that last for a while. By swiping , clicking and scrolling every day , the brain will have made demonstrable new connections.

Decisive brain

Our brains switch between the options ‘reading’ and ‘deciding’ while surfing the internet. The result is that our brain is overloaded. That’s why we store less information and understand less well what we have read.

Anyone who really wants to learn something prefers a book to the internet. The more we are online, the more effort it takes to get through a thick book. The temptations of the Internet are always within reach. And they make our brains addicted to many impulses, distractions and quick gratification. The result: plastic changes in our brains, meaning that our brain only knows what to do with short flashes. A text message, a tweet, a thumbs up, it doesn’t have to be much longer.

Data, data and more data!


number of windows the average computer user has open on the screen

20 seconds

time that passes before we click through to the next window

107 mins.

the average Dutch person is online every day

56 seconds

is the average time we spend on a web page

Are books bad for the memory?

The invention of writing is a revolution that drastically changed our lives. At the time, critics feared that our brains would suffer.
For example, philosopher Socrates was already concerned about the influence of written paper on our memory. Writing and reading would make the upstairs room lazy. After all, why would you remember something if you can look it up on a piece of paper? It is exactly the same accusation that is now being heard about the internet.

Our brains are never finished. Because we are creating new networks in our brains, and they rarely have only disadvantages. The printing press ultimately proved to be a huge milestone for human progress.

Brain in withdrawal

The Internet has a satisfying effect on the brain. When one clicks on a link, a need is satisfied. After all, there is an immediate reaction after clicking on the link, so new information for the brain.

All those hours online also have positive consequences. We assess articles and links for their value all day long. Is this information reliable? Where does this source come from? And we look critically at the writer of this. By continuously making decisions and selecting quickly, the brain becomes better at multitasking. Properties that play an important role in the modern world of technologies and computers.

In order to maintain a good balance between multitasking and concentration, it is good for the brain to go ‘ offline ‘ for a few hours a day. A book, for example, whose battery never runs out.