Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

How Does Media Impact the Brain?

Rose Gamblin, principal at the Baltimore White Marsh Adventist School in Baltimore, has done extensive research and authored three books about the media’s effect on children, including Is the Media Hurting My Child? She says we should be concerned about these five major areas of the brain:

Pleasure System—It helps us appreciate the simple things in life (i.e., a good meal). When overloaded, our perception of pleasure is diminished, creating a need for higher levels of simulation. This is called the addictive process.

Tranquility System—When constantly stimulated by digital media, it can increase the stress hormone cortisol. Excessive cortisol can block important tranquility receptors, causing the brain to shut down its production of natural tranquilizers and leading to more serious anxiety disorders.

Memory System—According to many experts, the human brain may have a very limited memory system. New findings indicate that much of how we process the influx of information—with its distractions, demands for multi-tasking and simultaneous processing—may actually reduce our ability to retain information.

Learning System—Just as the organs and muscles of the body can become fatigued, so can the brain. The digital world offers an abundance of information at a very fast pace. When our brains are busy with digital input, we forfeit downtime, which it needs between learning tasks to process and consolidate information. Lack of downtime also disrupts creativity.

Attachment System—Researchers have found that a parent’s sensitivity to their infant’s signals establishes a positive and secure attachment. Later, this attachment is transferred to others and God. Damage is done when the parent is unresponsive to the child’s signals. It is often easier to hand that toddler a cell phone or tablet than to try and understand what they are trying to communicate.


Source: Help! I’m a Parent video series, Managing Media segment, by the Family Ministries Department of the North American Division

Photo by Jennifer Gustines


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