​The dangers of the digital world

3rd November 2017

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How to use tech productively without harming your brain

There is no doubt that the rise of digital technology has been a boost to business. Productivity and connectivity, as well as flexible working and learning, have all benefited from the digital revolution.

But, like too many things we enjoy, there’s a major downside that could become a real problem if we don’t do something about it.

Baroness Susan Greenfield – a neuroscientist and crossbench peer in the House of Lords – has long raised concerns about the impact of digital technology on our cognition. Studies show that the way we use digital devices is damaging our ability to think, understand and learn about the world around us.

She argues that our obsession with social media and online connectivity, particularly among the young, is having a cumulative negative impact on our brains. We are at risk, says Baroness Greenfield, of becoming victims of technology in terms of our ability to concentrate and absorb information – our addiction to the instant rewards of the Internet leads to a short attention span, more recklessness and poor interpersonal skills among other issues.

These issues clearly have a bearing on our performance at work and are therefore creating a major impact on business.

It’s easy to see this effect in our own lives. How many of us experience a sense of unease, or even distress, if we are forced to leave the digital world behind for more than a day? Some seek to remedy this addiction with what is called a ‘digital detox’.

What to do?

Baroness Greenfield has a background in pioneering research on Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, so is well placed to raise concerns. But she is also well placed to offer a way forward.

In many respects, the digital revolution is still in its infancy. Social media is a relatively new phenomenon and humanity is fathoming how to make use of it in a positive way, while battling the demons of online abuse and political interference. These are certainly interesting times we live in.

The key to retaining a healthy balance of online and offline activity is to renew the focus on what makes our brains work best and take steps to enhance our cognitive abilities.

Exercise is an integral factor in a healthy brain. Studies show, for example, that running increases the production of neurons and has a significantly positive impact on our ability to lead and work productively.

Creativity and channelling the imagination in a constructive way also makes us more able to deal with challenging situations…and people!

And it seems a spot of digital detox is a good thing. Taking time out to slow down and appreciate nature, friends and family all help to combat the negative effects of an over-reliance on digital connection.

Cegos is delighted to welcome Baroness Susan Greenfield as keynote speaker at our next event – Cegos Cognition at Covent Garden Hotel in London on Friday 17th November 2017.

At the event, Baroness Greenfield will explore the impact of digital technology on the brain. She will discuss how to use digital more effectively to solve workplace issues, as well as inspire leadership and creativity. It promises to be a fascinating and timely presentation that will help you understand how to use digital technology productively in your business while avoiding the many pitfalls.

Register your free place here.