How has consumption changed us?

When I was a kid, I would come home from school and watch some TV, maybe have a bowl of cereal and wait on dinner.

When my folks got home, Mum would start on the dinner and then Dad would get home slightly later and would read the paper. They would both watch the 6 o’clock news together (usually as we ate).

Then they would watch the news again at 9 (as it was then).  Oh, and they woke up to the radio in the morning so heard any news then. No internet.  Just TV, radio and newspapers.

An infographic about internet usageSo, how have these habits changed?

I compare myself to my folks here:

  • 7:00am Check Twitter to see if there are any headlines. Check emails
  • 8:00am Download various news sites to phone and read when underground on the tube. Listen to tunes on iPod touch. Check emails.
  • 8:45am Switch on laptop. Check emails and have a read of the latest on Twitter.

And so on.  You’ll get the idea so I don’t think I need to map out my full day here.  That’s another blog post in itself entitled “What I do in a day.”

This is a huge difference in a time gap of only around 30 years.  Apparently these days we consume 12 hours of media a day, compared with 5 hours in 1960. You’ll notice it when you’re on a bus or standing at the train station. Actually, you’ll notice it pretty much everywhere you go these days – people reading on their phones or tablets. Hell, I realised the other day that in our house we have an iPad, a Kindle Fire, two laptops, a TV (which is also wired to the internet), two iPod Touch’s and three different smart phones. Is this really necessary?  Surely this high level of consumption cannot be good for my memory and my health.

However, research carried out by UCLA says that internet use may increase brain function in adults.  And there have been studies carried out which tell us that we humans are not very good at multitasking. Interestingly, our brains have actually been wired to alert us to danger – this of course correlates in the modern age to us receiving an email, a text or perhaps a mention in a tweet.  But this is slowly evolving as we adapt to the new technologies so that (hopefully!) I can finish writing a presentation before I look at what has arrived in my inbox.

Further to this, a study was carried out on how the internet affects memory.  The results from Dr Sparrow are really interesting. “The subjects were significantly more likely to remember information if they thought they would not be able to find it later. “Participants did not make the effort to remember when they thought they could later look up the trivia statement they had read,” the authors write.”

I certainly feel at this moment that everything I consume cannot be bad for me.  I am constantly learning and it almost feels like my brain is having a work-out every day. Still, I find myself in this perpetual consumption cycle which I cannot switch off and I do wonder just how this will affect my brain in the future.  I already know that my memory isn’t that good and that I use a certain search engine to find almost everything out. So if you see me as you’re about to start a pub quiz, then don’t ask me to be a part of your team.  You would be much better to ask for one of my parents.

by [googleplusauthor]

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