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iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind Paperback – October 6, 2009
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"A book about your brain that should make you think-twice." -- Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts by explaining how the human brain develops at different stages of life - malleable in both children and adults, and at it's prime in middle age. Dr. Small cites several studies in both children and adults that tie frequent technology use to conditions such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, depression, anxiety, and even sociopathic behavior. Dr. Small cautions that the damage of frequent technology use is especially prevalent for children under eight years old. The news is not entirely dismal, however; he also cites studies that show strengths in cognitive abilities that can be attributed to searching the Internet and using similar technologies.
A recurring theme in iBrain is the issue of multitasking. Dr. Small attempts to prove that multitasking is not beneficial to productivity or attention levels. He explains that a condition called "continuous partial attention" is plaguing those that use the Internet frequently. This condition is described as "keeping tabs on everything but not really focusing on anything." This phenomena can also lead to "techno brain burnout," something that Dr.Read more ›
iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind by Gary Small, M.D. and Gigi Vorgan
Dr. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan's iBrain is a fascinating book that details how technology is changing our brains. Their main thesis is that our brains and the brains of our children are much more plastic and changeable than we have been led to believe. They differentiate between digital immigrants: people who had to learn technology such as computers and cell phones as adults, and digital natives: people who have known technology since birth. The good news for middle-aged digital immigrants is that we have the advantage over older ones and the younger natives, because our brains are plastic enough to respond to and learn new technologies than older brains, but we retain the social skills that native sometimes lack.
My son has a mild form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome, so I panicked for a moment. Did I let him watch television too much when he was younger. Play on the computer? No and no-he wasn't interested thankfully. But he is now, and I was surprised to learn that digital natives suffer some of the same symptoms as autistic individuals: lack of eye contact; a just-the-facts approach to communication, and a lack of give-and-take in conversation. So now that he's a PSP fanatic, is my son's Asperger's getting worse? I don't think so. He has enough else going on. According to iBrain, that seems to be the key. All electronics and no face time, makes for digital natives that have poor social skills, so it is very important to reinforce human connection away from electronic devices.Read more ›
I suppose by Small's description of Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives, I am an early immigrant or perhaps a "pioneer" --- I went online in my early 20s connecting to the first online communities (dial-up bulletin boards in the early 80s). My brain was still a little plastic then, I suppose, so I'm like someone who immigrates as a young adult.
It seems to me Dr. Small set about to write a book that would appeal to the fears of the digital immigrants, the fears of all parents, and the disparaging emotions of those who just generally feel that the world is going to the dogs.
Dr. Small's writing is full of emotionally laden language. Teenagers don't just look at computer screens, they "stare". Their music doesn't play, it "blares". Each chapter is prefaced by a short horror story about a cyberaddicted person. Do-it-yourself "assessment tests" at the back of the book ask questions that would lead most honest people to worry about themselves -- and even more likely, to fill in the answers for their spouse or child in a negative way.
Small conflates TV with computer use in much of his writing; despite their similar screens they are completely different. He reports early in the book that "a recent Kaiser study found that young people eight to eighteen years of age expose their brains to eight and a half hours of digital and video sensory stimulation each day." Note his choice of words: "expose their brains to...". Not "experience" or "use", but "expose their brains"; like exposure to radiation. His choice of words already betrays his judgment and seeks to set the reader's bias. But the study notes that only one hour of this is using the computer!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting information. Worth reading, although not revolutionary.Published 4 months ago by JosephS
Very interesting book about how the brain is being changed by technology, and not always for the better. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Ligtstar
Dr Small has done a fabulous job of making the complexity of the subject reasonably simple for a non scientist without losing important details. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Laura Woford
A review of the way things were in 2008. Neuroscience had made advances. Often doesnot stay on the subject to review elementary information about how to live in this high-tech... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Alice OMullane
Interesting and I wonder about ten years from now, what we will know that may validate or augment the interventions, perspectives and impact the results.Published 17 months ago by Martin Quisenberry