My independent study is a research project about the effect of everyday technology, such as telephones or laptops, on the brain. My goal for the research project is to gain an understanding of the topic and be able to come up with solutions to the world of negative effects that technology has. I would like to be able to help people negatively affected by everyday technology. For the intensive fair, I want to create a type of game to inform students and teachers of my findings during this project. I also want to put my findings together in papers or on a poster board to display to people as well.
Day 1 (January 7, 2019):
Today I did background research on my topic. I researched various common positive and negative effects that everyday technology has on the brain and found lots of specialists that I could contact from around the country. My schedule included using the first half of the day for background research and the second half of the day to create questions and contact specialists. I received two replies to my previous emails about possible interviews, and they both were open to being interviewed. I would like to find a variety of specialists, varying from those that are in favor of technology to those that are against technology. This would allow me to gain a good understanding of both sides of the spectrum. The questions that I created for the interviews are:
What are instances or examples of experiences that you had with negative or positive effects on the brain due to everyday technology (telephones, laptops, etc)?
What everyday technology causes the most positive or negative effects on the brain from your experiences
What are preventative measures or little changes that you tell people to make who have been negatively affected by technology?
How do you think the future will be affected by technology?
Overall, do you believe that technology should be much more limited?
I believe that these questions will prove to be very informative once they are answered by specialists.
For tomorrow, I would like to get an interview done and analyze the interview. I would also like to continue my research on new websites and gain an even better understanding.
Day 2 (January 8, 2019):
Today I spent the first half of my day interviewing and analyzing my interview with Dr. Jim Taylor, who wrote an article about the ways technology is changing the way children think and focus. In both the interview and the article, Dr. Taylor described positives and negatives of technology in a straightforward manner based off of his interactions. Here is an example of one of his opinions:
Positive: immediate communication with others, accessing information, staying connected with friends
Negative: opportunity costs (time spent in front of a screen is time not spent doing healthier things), addiction, distraction, lack of direct time with other people
Dr. Taylor believes that technology should be more limited and used as “a tool, not a toy”. He also does not want to see technology continue to develop into a “rule in our daily lives”.
Overall, I believe that, as shown above, Dr. Taylor was able to address each question thoroughly and support the majority of my research so far.
I spent the next parts of my day continuing yesterday’s research on the effects that everyday technology has on the brain. Tomorrow, I will interview another specialist, Dr. Larry Rosen, a past professor and chair of the psychology department at California State University.
Day 3 (January 9, 2019)
Today was spent using a lot more visual research techniques. I watched lots of ted talks and a movie about the topics. From the videos and movie, I have noticed that the majority of the talk about technology is aimed at smartphones and social media. This shows resemblance to my interview with Dr. Jim Taylor, who stated: “Smartphones have become an attachment of our lives. It’s always there, always on, always beckoning.”
My most interesting takeaway of the day came from the ted talk made by Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist, who spoke about the several changes that everyday technology is causing inside the brain. Most of her talk was about video games, where she spoke about how they have been proven to affect the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Dr. Greenfield used lots of visual examples to support her points.
Another interesting takeaway from today came from a different ted talk, where the speaker spoke about social media in particular. Using graphs and charts, the speaker tracked the changes made with the internet from the 1990s to the present day, tracking very drastic changes. The speaker then brought up a study that was taken on college students to find the results of social media. In college students, higher rate of social media were found, which were linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression.
Watching these videos and ted talks made me think about my daily life and has influenced me to not spend as much time on social media to prevent myself from falling into addiction as may happen with social media and other technology involved with smartphones.
As videos and movies about technology were very helpful and educating today, I would like to start implementing them into my daily research, rather than simply websites and articles. Tomorrow, I plan to research further into which exact parts of the brain are altered and affected by technology. I would like to search specifically about smartphones tomorrow because I believe that it is the biggest problem that we may face.
Day 4 (January 10, 2019):
The beginning of today was spent continuing to watch ted talks about my topic, as they are plentiful. From the ted talks, I was able to come up with several takeaways. One of them detailed the problems with smartphones are mainly due to smartphones constantly being with each person, unlike laptops and computers. This allows anybody to pull out their smartphones and spend hours a day on social media. Moreover, we have become so attached to smartphones as a society to the point where we think that our phone buzzed with a notification, even if it did not. Studies show that over eighty percent of students in college have had an experience like this. This is just one piece of evidence that shows that we need to restrain from using smartphones so much.
One of the ted talks that I watched led me to view and read an article about the effect of technology, by Tyler Jacobson who has published lots of articles and papers. I have been able to connect with him, and I will be able to interview him tomorrow.
After lunch, I spent the second half of the day researching the positives of everyday technology. My research showed that technology could, in fact, boost brain activity, memory, and focus if used moderately.
A common theme from my research so far is that too much technology causes problems, as stated by people in favor of technology and against it. These findings match with the words of Dr. Taylor, who believes that technology will make our lives easier in some ways, but make them harder in other ways, unless it is moderated.
Tomorrow, I plan to conduct my interview with Tyler Jacobson and analyze it. From his articles, it seems to me as if my topic is very interesting to him, so I am very excited to interview Mr. Jacobson. I will also continue to research articles and videos after my interview is concluded.
Overall, I am fascinated by the fact that there is an abundance of ted talks and videos. I have noticed that this is a big issue in some eyes, and there are lots of people who are striving to solve our problem.
Day 5 (January 11, 2019):
I spent the beginning of my day today interviewing Tyler Jacobson, a journalist who has written several articles about limiting technology. These articles were the reason that I decided to contact Mr. Jacobson in the first place, as it occurred to me that he was very interested in the same topic as I am. With this said, I believe that my answers from Mr. Jacobson could prove to be very useful.
I spent the rest of my day continuing research and even looked into possible books to acquire to help me in my research project. Through my research today, I was introduced to the idea that signals from a smartphone may be very harmful to the human brain. I found this very intriguing and decided to include this in my research findings.
From my work in these first five days, I have started to make little changes in my life that would benefit me, such as limiting screen time and turning off my phone a certain time before I sleep. From these changes, I believe that I have been more energized. I have also been able to get better sleep and wake up refreshed. These results only encourage me to keep researching to find even better changes that we should all make in our daily lives.
For Monday, I would like to keep looking into the idea of signals from smartphones harming the brain and come to a solid understanding of that topic.
Day 6 (January 14, 2019):
Today’s research was focused on the positive effects of technology on the brain and the tips to help technology make those positive effects. In regards to the topic discussed on Friday, the smartphone signals do not cause harmful problems if the smartphone use is limited. However, the smartphone should be held a distance away from the head when in use.
Michigan State University looked at past studies to find out the smartphone use increase between 2009 and 2012. They found out that there was a 147% increase of texting in teens. In 2009, teens were receiving an average of 1,500 texts, while in 2012, teens were receiving 3,700 texts per month. This number was continuing to grow each year, which shows that smartphone use is not being limited correctly, which is a problem.
From my research about positive effects of technology on the brain, the fact that I found most interesting was that it may save space to remember more important things in life. Most people against smartphones often believe that the need to remember so many things, rather than keeping them written in your phone is harmful to the brain, as you are not forced to remember things such as telephone numbers.
For tomorrow, I have another interview. I would also like to begin brainstorming the specifics of a game for the intensive fair. That would allow me to get ideas written on a paper and develop them as we get closer to the intensive fair. I am really enjoying my independent study and I look forward to each day of learning!
Day 7 (January 15, 2019):
Today I conducted an interview, where the responses were very similar to previous interviews. I was told that technology should be used and is very useful, but it should not be used excessively. Additionally, smartphones and other small technological devices should be much more limited than it currently is. The norm in society today is to spend hours and hours each day on social medias, which I believe is the most prevalent problem in society and causes the most problems from technology. I believe that if we cut down on social medias and educate younger children on the importance of setting limits, we could prevent possible brain damage from smartphones.
For the intensive fair, I would like to create a trivia game with little prizes for winners. I would also like to write some type of paper to show my findings. This paper would include preventative tips, causes, and effects. This would be better to express my findings in a more detailed fashion.
For tomorrow, I would like to continue brainstorming and start to write an outline for my paper. I could also continue to work on researching effects of smartphones depending on the time I have left. I am very excited to work on my project for my intensive fair and give people very important tips for their daily lives.
Day 8 (January 16, 2019):
Today, my day was spent partially planning for the intensive fair and partially looking at smartphone signals. One interesting finding from today was the “Legal” section of the settings of an iPhone. This section talks about radio frequency exposure, which alarmed me. After further research, I was able to expand my understanding on the topic. When phones are placed next to the ear too much, the radiation from smartphones cause walls of blood vessels to start to shrink. When the walls shrink completely, harmful substances are able to enter into the brain. This could cause lots of brain damages, especially when the radiation is next to the memory portion of the brain.
With this said, we are able to prevent these damages. Some preventative measures are to use the speaker option when talking on the phone. Using headphones also help with this. Metal phone cases could also be a bad idea by possibly increasing the radio frequency from the smartphone. Some specialists also believe that the phone is less harmful if it is placed on the left side of the head, instead of the right. This is because the right side of the head is the memory-related location of the brain.
This research was very interesting to me because it is not very tough to make changes that would help with brain health. I found it interesting that simple changes like putting the phone on speaker or using headphones could prevent so many possible damages.
I do not yet have an interview for tomorrow, so the current plan is to continue brainstorming for the intensive fair and work on the research paper that I would like to write.
Day 9 (January 17, 2019):
Today I focused my research on some positives effects of technology. An argument I ran into was that smartphones allows people to be more active with apps like the health app from apple. Tracking steps proves to very motivating in certain cases. One survey showed that people are a lot more motivated to work out or run since they started using the health app. It feels good for lots of people to see a high number of steps and a long distance in the statistics section. Other apps actually allow people to earn money by walking. One example of this is Sweatcoin. Users get money after a long period of time. Sweatcoin tracks users’ steps and uses health data to track movement. The more you walk, the more money you could make. Apps similar to this influence smartphone users to keep walking and stay active.
I also brainstormed some more for the intensive fair and have come to the decision that I would like to bring in a tri-fold board to display my research findings, as well as a research paper and a game. This should be enough to help people make little changes to their lives that could have big positive effects. The research paper and tri-fold board will be a little more straightforward, while the game is a way for people to learn about my topic without feeling bored.
I would like to start working on all my intensive fair work on Monday, so I would like to try to cap off my research for tomorrow. I believe that I am at a good point in terms of my research project, and I am excited to work hard again tomorrow!
Day 10 (January 18, 2019):
Today was spent talking to my sponsor, Dr. Zaidat, to confirm my plans for the intensive fair and to work with him to make my research even better. This will allow me to get a new insight on ideas that I have not yet thought about to make my project better.
The next part of my day was spent completing research to get ready for my research paper, game and tri-fold board. From telling people in person, I noticed that people are very intrigued by my topic because they are able to make simple changes that benefit them a ton. My topic is also intriguing because technology is used so often in our day and age, so people are interested in knowing the risks and benefits of it.
With this said, I believe that I will be able to have a big enough of an audience at the intensive fair to spread a message and change a couple lives. If one person hears my presentation and tells their friends, I could have a better impact. This is why I am very interested in making a great presentation for the intensive fair.
For Monday, I would like to start working on my research paper or my game, and I would like to leave the tri-fold board until I am done with my paper and game. This should give me enough time to revise my paper, have my mentor read it, create the game, and get feedback on the game.
I am very excited to start working on my intensive fair presentation!
Day 11 (January 22, 2019):
Today was my last day getting help from my sponsor in terms of information. We talked about my plans for the intensive fair and I spoke to him about my topic in general. I received lots of help thanks to him and I was able to carry on with my plans. I was very grateful to be able to speak with him because he has a tight schedule.
Today I also got my plans together for my trivia game. I am planning to have 10 questions that are multiple choice that are tough. Each person who plays the game will receive a small piece of candy. Since the game is hard, there will probably only be one or a few winners. That winner(s) will receive several pieces of candy as their reward. This will encourage people to really try hard to win the game, teaching them ways to better their lives in terms of everyday technology. After each question, I will give more information on the question and the answer to help them even more. I would like to use my laptop to make the game more interactive with sounds and/or green/red screens.
After speaking with my mentor, I have decided not to write the research paper, as it is not needed since I have other presentation methods.
Tomorrow, I plan to finish the idea of the trivia game, which would allow me to focus on the tri-fold board on Thursday.
Day 12 (January 23, 2019):
School was closed today due to poor weather. After hours and hours, roads cleared up, so I decided to take the day to gather supplies instead of taking the day off. I bought candy for the trivia game, and I bought a tri fold board.
After planning for the tri-fold board, I have decided that it would include a big title in the middle. Under the title would be the goals that I initially set for this intensive, as well as the final result and what I achieved in the intensive. One of the biggest things that I would like to address in this section is the fact that I started out aiming at everyday technology in general and ended up researching specifically about smartphones, as that was what my findings were mainly focused on. I would like to include my research strategies and various specifics as to what my results were and how I found them. Additionally, I would like to include several pictures to keep the readers engaged.
I believe that having this tri-fold board will attract an audience and keep them engaged. I will explain the tri-fold board and show it to the audience, then start the trivia game and ask them questions. I will explain each answer and question after it is answered.
Tomorrow, I plan to finish my trivia questions and start working on the tri-fold board. I would like to get the whole trivia part finished, including possible effects and questions/answers. I am aiming to completely finish the tri-fold board by late Thursday or early Friday before presenting to my mentor.
Day 13 (January 24, 2019):
Today, I spent the day working on my trivia questions. I thought of 8 questions ranging from easy to very hard. The questions are listed below:
1. Where should one place their smartphone when answering a call
On the right side of the head
On the left side of the head
It doesn’t matter
2. What does the radiation from smartphones do in the brain?
Shrinks blood vessel walls
Destroys brain tissue
All of the above
3. How do you minimize this radiation?
Putting the phone on speaker
Either of the above
4. What is high social media use linked to?
Anxiety and Depression
Increased rates of happiness
Closer with friends and family
5. How much did texting increase between 2009 and 2012?
6. When does the majority of the radiation come to your body?
Holding the phone up to the head
Staring at a screen for hours
Using smartphones at night
7. What is the best way to keep smartphones from making a negative impact on your life?
Don’t spend too much time on them
Don’t use them at all
Both A or B
8. If used purposefully, is everyday technology able to make a positive impact on your brain activity?
These questions should be able to give tips or educate the audience on how to prevent negative effects of every day technologies. I will explain the answer and give background information for each question so that each person playing the game will get a thorough understanding of the topic.
I also started to work on my tri-fold board. Everything will be typed up and printed to be glued onto the tri-board. I will not use markers or other writing utensils.
I believe that my presentation will be very successful, and I will be able to educate lots of people.