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Digital Devices Deprive Brain of Needed Downtime

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-needs-me-a-break dept.

Technology 222

siliconbits writes with an excerpt from NY Times: "Technology makes the tiniest windows of time entertaining, and potentially productive. But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas."

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222 comments

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oh rly? (5, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368292)

Why do you think I run Windows? ::rimshot::

Re:oh rly? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368632)

Let me check my brains uptime ... 36 hours, needs a reboot.

Re:oh rly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368832)

If I didn't want to reply to this thread I would have modded your comment all of the way up to a 5.

Re:oh rly? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369088)

Man, you are not funny, you are really very insightful. Now i now why i run windows too.

Summary too long (0)

Tobenisstinky (853306) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368296)

didn't read.

I take several short naps a day (5, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368352)

I lay down on the couch several times a day for 10 to 30 minutes and close my eyes, it does not matter if I fall asleep or not, just the act of closing my eyes and letting my mind rest does wonders for recharging my energy levels and clearing my mind of noise & clutter.

Re:I take several short naps a day (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368460)

If only most of us could do that, rather than having shitty pointy-haired micromanager bosses who insist on minute-by-minute "productivity" scales.

The day the 'worker productivity index' was invented was the day society started going to hell.

Re:I take several short naps a day (5, Funny)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368598)

I once heard a tale of someone who when faced with a boss who demanded updates every 15 minutes on what he was doing wrote a script which strung together meaningless management buzzwords in a vaguely sensible format and emailed them to his boss every 15 minutes.

a few weeks later he gets an award for being a team player and keeping his boss in the loop.

It's not like the boss ever reads them after the first day.

Re:I take several short naps a day (4, Insightful)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369066)

Perhaps the idea of the "seista" was right!

Re:I take several short naps a day (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369292)

It was 100% right. If I had a 2-3 hour time period to get a nap or something in the middle of the day I'd get twice as much done in my afternoons. I currently get about half as much done in the afternoon as I get done in the morning. Leading to a trend for me of coming in early to get work done rather than staying late.

Re:I take several short naps a day (1)

gssgss (1678482) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369360)

Perhaps the idea of the "seista" was right!

The brain continues working during the sleep. Maybe it packs things in a .zip. ;-P
P.S. Don't want to be rude, but it is spelled "siesta".

Re:I take several short naps a day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368464)

must be nice, I dont even see a couch for 10 hours after I wake up

Re:I take several short naps a day (3, Funny)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368790)

Just set a couch as your screen background...

Re:I take several short naps a day (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368750)

I do basically the same thing: I walk my dog for 30 minutes each day. The dog is well trained, so I do not have to keep close tabs on her. I let my mind wander and think of reasons to be happy. It works wonders.
The movement even gives some exercise.

Re:I take several short naps a day (1)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369772)

I work from home these days, and I take one or two small lay down and doze naps each day. It makes a huge difference in my productivity and the quality of my work. I work in a very nap tolerant organization, and even when people are in the office management doesn't mind when people close their office doors to nap for a bit. Our management cares about real results, like whether you're meeting your commitments and that your clients are happy. This nap tolerant attitude may be the result of the organization consisting of older, experienced developers, architects and managers who have worked with each other for ten or more years, and trust that when you say something is going to be done by a specific date it will be completed and really ready for integration testing by that date.

Instant distractions (2)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368356)

This is the very reason I don't have a cell phone* and haven't used an instant messenger in years. It is also the same reason that I only check personal email at most once a day (They call it mail for a reason). If I'm at home or the office than the land line works very well - if I'm not there than I'm busy anyway.

*People ask how can you manage that - I tell them it's a little secret called forethought or planning.

Re:Instant distractions (3, Funny)

PocariSweat1991 (1651929) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368424)

This is the very reason I don't have a cell phone

I met a gentleman last night who recently purchased a Droid phone and claimed that it's the first mobile phone that he's ever owned. When I asked him why he didn't own one before, he responded:

"I thought cell phones were only useful for buying drugs."

I think he also has a 5-digit slashdot user id

Re:Instant distractions (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368508)

"I thought cell phones were only useful for buying drugs."

There's an app for that.

Re:Instant distractions (5, Funny)

halfaperson (1885704) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368452)

*People ask how can you manage that - I tell them it's a little secret called forethought or planning.

I usually tell them it's a little secret called "no friends".

Re:Instant distractions (2, Insightful)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368546)

Nah - it's real friends. They care enough to be reliable, know the contingencies, and not be offended if something crazy happens.

Re:Instant distractions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368980)

Nah - it's real friends. They care enough to be reliable, know the contingencies, and not be offended if something crazy happens.

Your set of GI Joe action figures?

Re:Instant distractions (2, Funny)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369808)

Well, and Barbie for the girl friends. How do you know my system so well?

Re:Instant distractions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368638)

Possibly busy waiting for someone who had a last minute problem and could not contact you to cancel.

*People ask don't you get distracted by your mobile - I tell them it's a little secret called the off button.

Re:Instant distractions (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368662)

I've got a cell phone but I only give the number to people I actually want to hear from.
All the pros, none of the cons.

Re:Instant distractions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368880)

Well duh. Who'd want to hear from a convict?

Re:Instant distractions (0, Offtopic)

Exitar (809068) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368704)

So getting distracted to post on /. is planned?

1. Read three posts per hour
2. Read TFA every three hours
3. Post a comment every seven hours.

Re:Instant distractions (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368774)

2. Read TFA every three hours

No, you don't read TFA. TFA is so overrated!

Re:Instant distractions (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369364)

In denial eh?

Re:Instant distractions (1)

theeddie55 (982783) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369086)

4. ...
5. Profit!

Re:Instant distractions (4, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368708)

This is the very reason I don't have a cell phone

You know, cell phones have a very useful functionality: You can switch them off. The advantage of a switched-off cell phone vs. no cell phone is that you can quickly get a working cell phone in case you need one: Just switch it on. Moreover, you get great times between battery recharges this way.

Re:Instant distractions (1)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368770)

I generally agree with your sentiment of planning ahead, and often leave my phone behind if I've already pre-arranged plans with people, but how are phones any better than IM or email in terms of distraction?

You can't really defer a phone call without then getting into voice mail territory, which is way more annoying (and time consuming) than just reading an email. And a proper phone conversation requires input from two people simultaneously, rather than one person being able to go and do some work while the other person thinks and types up a response.

Re:Instant distractions (1)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369686)

How nice for you that you've found it comfortable to get by without a cell phone. It's too bad you feel the need to condescend to those who find cell phones useful. (Actually, it suggests you're probably compensating for the fact that you really aren't as happy with your choice as you'd like others to believe; but I digress.)

I plan ahead, and then I carry a cell phone in case reality interferes with my plans. This also allows me to quickly change my plans if an opportunity arises.

But then, some people don't value flexibility and are willing to accept any inconvenience resulting from a plan breaking down; if you're one of those, good for you.

tl;dr (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368358)

NPR had a long thing on this the other day. Supposedly it kills our attention span. Or something, tl;dl.

Re:tl;dr (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369846)

ya probably bs.....squirrel!!!

Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368360)

This explains a lot. I ran a linux system during my youth, which explains why my memory is completely shot! No downtime at all :(

Wow (4, Funny)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368376)

Did Slashdot just advise us to cut back on Slashdot?

Re:Wow (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368412)

I guess a Slashdot app for iPhone won't be coming out anytime soon either.

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368432)

No, but it explains why in Soviet Slashdot, the same old jokes rehash you!

We're not capable of being creative enough to think of original jokes.

Re:Wow (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369254)

We're not capable of being creative enough to think of original jokes.

What? I thought Commander Taco was an original joke!

HAAAAAHAHAAAHAAHARROFLLALALAOLOLOL!!11!!eleventy!!!

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

Psmylie (169236) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369548)

Why spend all that time and energy creating new jokes when recycled jokes is so much more efficient? Think green, dammit!

People often overlook the horrible environmental effects of joke pollution. Re-using old jokes instead of letting them just litter our society could reduce that significantly, and also save many old comedians from complete extinction.

Won't someone please think of the old comedians?!

I re-use old jokes all the time. Just ask my wife. She'll tell you all about it. At length, apparently.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368476)

Did Slashdot just advise us to cut back on Slashdot?

When the crack dealer suggests that maybe you don't need any crack this week, it's not because he actually wants you to cut back, it's because he wants to you to imagine having to cut back, panic, and let him jack up the price.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33369020)

Did they? I didn't bother to read the summary so I'll take your word on that.

I'd be fine (2, Funny)

ooji (1471967) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368396)

if it wasn't for http://xkcd.com/386/ [xkcd.com] .

Sanity management (1)

your_neighbor (1193249) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368416)

Indeed, I learned this while studying for my thesys.
How I proceed: Before gym, I read something very deep and complex. Just 1 sentence or equation. Then I would do my regular exercises, sometimes wondering what I read, implications and etc.
It must have something about internal brain/body chemistry, but the union is productive and healthy.
I dont use iStuff in the process, since today Im a bit sensitive to media overloads (images/sounds).
Also, I discovered that I already lost sensibility to sounds. I recommend everybody to avoid too loud music, since our life expectation is high and I dont intend to be a deaf old guy at 100 yr old.

No surprice (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368426)

[Zoidberg] Look I'm contributing!
[Prof] Good news everyone! This news must come as NO surprise at all so it might surprise that this is news!
[Fry] I'm confused, should I be surprised I'm not surprised?
[Prof] Stop taking up my brain uptime, you fool!! And stop talking in this strangly slightly annoying yet entertaining stereotypical voice.

Going for a run or a ride... (4, Interesting)

txoof (553270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368430)

I really value my exercise time for this 'down time.' I can't stand running with headphones because I can't get lost in the moment. Going out for a nice long run (or a walk) on Sunday morning when you have a problem to mull over is just about the greatest way to find some insight and a new angle on it. I've composed term papers and had some wonderful insights into my life and relationships while on runs.

As I get older, I also find that I need to turn off more and more distractions if I really want to get anything serious done. I close the web browser, turn off the IM and silence the phone (I'd turn it off, but it takes so freaking long to reboot, it's obnoxious). I remember a time in my youth that I'd have 12 things going on at once, watching TV, playing video games and maybe even music running somewhere. I think I was being productive, but looking back, I question that. Perhaps my abilities to 'multi-task' have diminished as I've aged, but I think that I've just become more adept at recognizing shoddy work. What about you all? Have you fond that as you get older, you need more quite time to think than you did when you were younger? Do little distractions like email and IMs really cut into your productivity?

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

Defenestrar (1773808) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368580)

I think I was being productive, but looking back, I question that. Perhaps my abilities to 'multi-task' have diminished as I've aged, but I think that I've just become more adept at recognizing shoddy work. What about you all? Have you fond that as you get older, you need more quite time to think than you did when you were younger?

As you get older you (hopefully) realize the value of thinking all the way through before acting. Hence the phrase "older and wiser."

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (3, Funny)

txoof (553270) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368846)

Ahh - Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

Kamineko (851857) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368908)

The moral of the story: judge everything constantly.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369410)

No, it would seem just the opposite. Take time off to pass no judgments until you have been able to think things through by not distracting essential components of your "subconscious" brain by your "conscious" brain.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369388)

Thats why its called the SCHOOL of hard knocks.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369216)

I can't stand running with headphones because I can't get lost in the moment.

Plus, then you can hear cars and cyclists coming.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to skirt around an idiot running or cycling on a dual-use path with their music jacked high enough they can't hear my bell...

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369398)

I've had exactly the same experience. Used to work with music or TV shows running, now I can't concentrate with the slightest bit of noise.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369442)

I really value my exercise time for this 'down time.' I can't stand running with headphones because I can't get lost in the moment.

I listen to my iPod while lifting weights & also watch headline news on TV doing the elliptical. I find it helps me to keep up my pace and also makes the time go by faster, and sometimes power through the pain.

As I get older, I also find that I need to turn off more and more distractions if I really want to get anything serious done.

I'm totally with you on that one. These days during my lunch, I work on improving my computer programming skills. I go some place isolated, having only the laptop. I leave my phone at my desk, I don't surf the web or check my e-mail. I learn more during that hour than I usually do with 8 hours of work, due to constant phone calls, e-mail, etc. I think for home I need to get a good pair of noise canceling headphones.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (3, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369474)

Have you fond that as you get older, you need more quite time to think than you did when you were younger? Do little distractions like email and IMs really cut into your productivity?

I'm 24 now. As I've grown out of my college years I've noticed this to be true. I can turn out more stuff (poetry, blog updates, electronic gizmos, whatever I'm working on) if I keep the instant messengers closed. I also like to have my door closed because my roomate has a bad habit of popping into my room to show me "the funniest thing ever" on Youtube which is usually a 10 second clip of someone injuring themselves. I don't really have the problem with music though. However, I do make a point to tune my internet radio station to a type of music that would make an appropriate soundtrack for whatever I am working on (for instance, if I am writing up a short story about a swordfight, the music would be some kind of kick-ass symphonic metal, or something similar). I do notice, however, that as I get older I have more of a tendency to turn on music and just stare at a wall while sipping a nice glass of whiskey. I used to always just think of music as appropriate background noise. These days I treat it almost like T.V., where I want to take the time to get lost in it.

Re:Going for a run or a ride... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369496)

"I really value my exercise time for this 'down time.' I can't stand running with headphones because I can't get lost in the moment. "

I'm the opposite...I find that I really LOVE tunes when exercising, both with weights and aerobic (mostly walk/running). I find that it distracts me from the 'pain' aspect, and especially the boring monotonous part of walking/running. I love slinging weights, but do not enjoy the aerobic stuff, but to me...it is a very necessary evil.

Especially in my past...when doing things like studying for finals, etc, I found that if I was in a completely silent room, my mind would wander, and I'd find myself soon doing things ranging from cleaning the apt (never cleaner than during finals)...to learning to juggle oranges.

However, if I had the tv on in the background, or threw on a bunch of CD's on the changer...I'd hum along tap my pen...etc, while I could study and concentrate. I'd find often after awhile, I'd played through all the CD's...and not realized or remembered much of what was going on. Strange.

I find I'm the same way when trying to sleep....if it is pitch black, and silent, I have a hard time shutting off my brain to go to sleep. So, I always set my TV on the timer, and at a fairly low volume where I can barely hear it...and drift off to sleep, and it turns itself off when I crash.

I've always been this way...only recently is there a major exception, and that is at work...I find that often when in a tense situation, needing research and troubleshooting, I can't don the headphones usually, but like you mentioned, maybe that is age?

I can daydream listening to mp3s (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368502)

I don't know about watching visuals, but I can get into a similar meditative state to jogging when I listen to music. Good for problem solving.

You can also do this kind of thing while driving. So much so that you can often forget the details of how you got somewhere.

I suspect, for me, any tech that demands focused consciousness may be a downside, but many forms of tech can let you get your daydreaming walk in the forest time.

Re:I can daydream listening to mp3s (4, Informative)

east coast (590680) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368714)

Meditation should cause you to become aware of your environment and not let the mind dwell on other issues. It's about focusing on "being here now." What you're doing is spacing out. They're not the same thing.

Re:I can daydream listening to mp3s (1)

frog_strat (852055) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369372)

Moment by moment this universe arises in my awareness.

Re:I can daydream listening to mp3s (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368848)

It depends on the music. Enya would be perfect for shutting of your mind. Dimmu Borgir causes the polar opposite in me.

Re:I can daydream listening to mp3s (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369490)

I'm not going to lie. A statement like:

You can also do this kind of thing while driving. So much so that you can often forget the details of how you got somewhere.

....makes me hope I never encounter you on the road.

Please (1)

U8MyData (1281010) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368506)

Oh boy! Another flavor of the month study. Who does these things, who is paying them, and what are their motivations? I think these kind of studies/reports are more responsible for the intrusion of my brains downtime than anything else as I consider the id10ts that make them. Time for some aspirin...

Re:Please (2, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369214)

Uhhh yeah...it must be the sitting-on-the-sofa-collecting-your-thoughts-for-a-few-minutes lobby, releasing a biased report to support their industry.

Re:Please (2, Funny)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369400)

So....that would be IKEA? :)

I never trusted those swedish bastards! Curse them and their delicious meatballs!

Re:Please (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369538)

You are not really trying to say that there isn't a large faction of the population that hates technology, and are actively trying to get people to use less because they have some misguided belief that it is bad are you? Have you never seen the 'Kill Your TV' bumper stickers? Have you not heard about the studies that try to point out the evils of video games? Sometimes people do things for money. Sometimes people do things for morals (whether we consider them good or bad), and sometimes people do things for money because other people will pay them to do it for morals.

Right of the bat, you can tell that this report (or at least the summary) is bogus based on the word 'Digital' in it. There is nothing magical about 'digital' information that would make you less able to concentrate. It sounds like they are really complaining about the fact that many people are always doing something. I know that staying busy offends many people, but it has nothing to do with 'digital'.

My guess is that they don't actually know what digital means, because I seriously doubt that they would argue that there is a difference in concentration levels between someone listening to a cassette tape vs. a CD vs. an MP3. Are they arguing that getting anolog phone calls every 5 minutes is less distracting than getting the same calls every 5 minutes over VOIP? What about the digital transmission done at the phone company. Does a phone call that originates on an analog phone, gets transmitted from one phone company office to another digitally, and then gets delivered via an analog phone count as digital or analog.

What about sitting in a quite room and reading a paper book? Most grown up books are digital. Does that count?

Re:Please (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369752)

You are not really trying to say that there isn't a large faction of the population that hates technology, and are actively trying to get people to use less because they have some misguided belief that it is bad are you?

No, I don't think it's a "large fraction" of the population, I don't think their belief is particularly misguided, and I CERTAINLY don't believe they're sponsoring biased research.

mmm (1)

Carebears (1867786) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368514)

i haz to haff teh internets all day.

More than that (4, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368536)

I read the article on the New York Times yesterday, but I've been thinking about this a lot lately in general, and I've come across some pretty interesting stuff. For instance, its pretty obvious that computers give off a lot of blue light. Apparently someone decided that blue LEDs meant high tech and so devices get fitted with them all over the place. Blue light in particular is linked to suppression of melatonin(source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11487664 [nih.gov] ). Particularly low levels of melatonin have been observed in patients with various degrees of ASD, including slashdot's favourite asperger's (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17505466 [nih.gov] ).

So, my contention is that the "rise in autism" that seems to be so prevalent these days is probably a result of children basically being deprived of proper darkness, being surrounded by light from computers, tv, video games, etc. I've started taking melatonin supplements as since I got back into IT work about two years ago and spending much more time on computers, I've been sleeping a lot less and feeling generally less sociable. My memory has gotten shot, etc. Could just be that I'm getting older, but I'm only 26... I'm not that old. When I get a break away from computers, take some time out to sleep, and get outside in the woods then I can generally shake the effects off in a day or so, but when I was a kid the world wasn't nearly as surrounded by computer technology in all its myriad of forms as it is today, where kids are basically handed a DS right out of the womb. I didn't see a gameboy until I was about 7 or 8, and it had a monochrome screen with no backlight.

And no, I don't mean a break from work. I mean a break from computers. It's not just being at work -- when I'm at work, its light outside anyway. I mean no laptop, no fancy phone, no nothing. Go away for a few days and leave that stuff behind, because if I'm just at home on the weekend and spend a lot of time plugged up, then I don't feel any better for not having been at work.

The way kids are today, with all their gadgets and gizmos can't possibly be any better for their brains than it is for their bodies, not playing outside nearly as much as they used to.

Stories like this match up pretty well with my own anecdotal evidence, not that it means much, but when I find NIH studies that seem to point to much more extreme versions of what I've seen, even in myself. Like I said, the effects on an adult are likely to be temporary, but our brains had time to mature before being mushed up.

Re:More than that (2, Insightful)

OffaMyLawn (1885682) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368928)

Maybe that is why my work gave me this nice laptop with all the blue LEDs on the touch bar...

On a more serious note though, I do have to agree with you. I spent a week on the beach in OBX with the family, didn't take my laptop, had my phone with me but left it in the house we rented, just kicked back and listened to the ocean with a beer in my hand. I felt a million times better after that, so I definitely agree that it's a good idea to just get away from technology completely ever so often.

Sometimes even small breaks can help, like taking the kids to the pool for the day, going out and flying kites, or anything else just to get out of the house and away from the noise.

Re:More than that (1)

maratumba (1409075) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368976)

Blue light in particular is linked to suppression of melatonin

So, instead of staring at blue LED's, we should go outside and watch the blue skies I guess.

Re:More than that (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369018)

When the sky is blue, its because its day time. When its not, its night time. Know what people are supposed to do at night, sleep? Melatonin helps you sleep, but its production is inhibited by blue light, like when its day time. Artificial blue light tricks your brain into thinkings its still day time, so you don't produce sufficient quantities of melatonin at the right point in the day to enter into a natural sleep cycle. The effects of sleep deprivation are pretty rough, otherwise it wouldn't be used as an "enhanced interrogation technique"

Re:More than that (1)

smithy242 (682463) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369062)

I bought a pair of blue-blocking glasses about two years ago for this very reason. At night if I can't reasonably control light levels, these blue-spectrum blocking glasses really help. lowbluelights.com offers these.

The greatest side-effect I have from blue light is delaying the sleep phase, where the quality sleep you receive is now early in the morning compared to the middle of the night. This makes mornings especially terrible and unproductive.

Re:More than that (0, Flamebait)

RaymondKurzweil (1506023) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369550)

For instance, its pretty obvious that computers give off a lot of blue light

citation needed.

The typical blue indicator LEDs you seem to be bitching about might be lucky to produce 3 lm of total light output, directed a little more than a luminaire, but still a small fraction of the light output of even a 7W incandescent nightlight.

As an expert in crackpot theories, let me just say you're doing well in that department.

The way kids are today, with all their gadgets and gizmos can't possibly be any better for their brains than it is for their bodies, not playing outside nearly as much as they used to.

Ok, the first part of this sentence reminded me of that Prince interview making the rounds a few weeks back.

Re:More than that (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369702)

Yeah, I guess I just invented the whole RGB thing and the fact that blue light is mixed in with the output in CRTs and LCDs. This isn't a crackpot theory: not once did I mention how George Bush was involved.

The problem as I see it, is the constantly being surrounded by light from various sources. Computers and other electronic devices just happen to be the most prevalent of those which encourage you to sit very close to them and stare directly at their light source (the display).

New ideas only come in the toywet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368542)

Silly wabbit

Am I wight?

Well... (0, Offtopic)

muckracer (1204794) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368634)

In Soviet Russia digital devices....AHAHAHAHAHA...ROFL!!

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33369792)

Russian mobile device market is one of the biggest and there's more cell phones there than people. don't worry, you're totally CLEVER and EDGY though! xD

Scientist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33368636)

Said scientists added "OKAY THE RESEARCH IS DONE CAN WE SLEEP NOW PLEASE" .............aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

Um no... not really.... (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368684)

It is not like before "digital devices" people would sit around doing nothing for "downtime".. Before pocket toys that look for our attention people had a list of tasks they had to do. Instead of wasting time sitting there playing plants-vs-zombies they read a book or talked.

My downtime is usually under a car or elbow deep in a motorcycle doing high level brain activity compared to what any digital device causes.

This is all bull-cockey. If anything the digital devices are making people stupid because they dont have to actually work for or retain any knowlege.. they certianly are not causing us to lose downtime, as humans by nature dont do brain downtime. Hell when we sleep we dont even have brain downtime.

Re:Um no... not really.... (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369190)

It is not like before "digital devices" people would sit around doing nothing for "downtime"

I'm not so sure. I know someone who isn't so big on technology and doesn't need it in his life (sometimes I admire him the simplicity that affords him).

Apparently, he's perfectly content to just sit quietly on his sofa for periods of time. No music, no TV, not even sure he's having any "inner dialog" -- I think he literally is content to just sit.

I've been known to sit on a rock for an hour or two, but that was usually taking in the sights around me and just actively sitting there with no more action than need be.

I think back in the day when people had far fewer distractions, more than a few of them probably occupied some time doing what we would essentially call 'nothing' since it didn't involve an activity or another person.

Hell when we sleep we dont even have brain downtime.

Well, I don't think they don't mean "zero activity", they mean that it's restful and will help 'recharge' somewhat.

Re:Um no... not really.... (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369234)

They're not talking about the couple hours at the end of the day where people do their hobbies and relax, they're talking about the minute here, minute there kind of downtime throughout the day. They're talking about leaning back in your chair and stretching out for a few minutes, waiting to hear back on a question you asked your co-worker, or just sitting on the damn toilet (we all know people who can't help but get out their phones while they're taking a crap).

Re:Um no... not really.... (1)

turkeyfish (950384) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369470)

"as humans by nature dont do brain downtime."

Funny you should say that, which leads to the obvious question, why is sleep a universal human behavior? According to you, humans don't sleep, but even limited observation suggests otherwise.

Re:Um no... not really.... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369652)

Did you really not read his whole post before responding? I mean, you can disagree with him if you want, but you don't do much for your argument when you say:

According to you, humans don't sleep, but even limited observation suggests otherwise.

after he says:

Hell when we sleep we dont even have brain downtime.

It's not like he wrote pages of stuff for you to sift through to get to that part.

Re:Um no... not really.... (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369736)

Most books are digital devices. It just uses a base 28 or something close to it. While in day to day life, I wouldn't go out of my way to point this out to people, in this case, we are talking about the affects of digital devices, and my suspicion is that the people who conducted this 'study' don't really understand what they are saying.

Eh (4, Informative)

Jethro (14165) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368812)

I heard an interview with the guy who wrote that book on NPR yesterday. Practically every sentence he spoke contained a "Maybe" or a "We don't know for sure" or an "It's possible that..."

His entire interview was preceded by him saying this is all theories and may not be correct at all and that there's actually no scientific proof of any of this.

So, grain of salt.

Re:Eh (1)

Roger_Wilco (138600) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369222)

You mean, he was a credible scientist? Scientists generally do not say things without caveats, and even if they omit them, you should assume the caveats remain. People with certainty are usually shysters.

Re:Eh (1)

Jethro (14165) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369272)

No, he was a guy who talked to a few scientists and wrote a book about it. I'm not saying he wasn't doing a good job, I'm saying the headline might be a biiit alarmist.

Time spent in the bathroom? (4, Funny)

iknowcss (937215) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368814)

I think a study should be done that correlates smartphone ownership with time spent per bathroom break. I think you all know why.

Re:Time spent in the bathroom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33369140)

Twitter shitters?

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2008/4/23/ [penny-arcade.com]

WTF does it have to do with digital? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368870)

Any device -- no, any activity -- that continuously takes up your attention is going to have the exact same effect. It's not like the brain subconsciously detects, "Hey, these inputs have discrete steps which I'm able to perceive thanks to my gold-plated Monster cables," and then the person goes nuts.

Quit saying "digital device" when you mean "any thing", quit saying iPhone when you mean any mobile computer, quit saying "digital music" when you mean any music that is downloaded instead of distributed on removable media, etc. You think you're being cutting edge and hip, but really, almost everyone can see your bullshit.

Encrypt it (1)

JohannesJ (952576) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368872)

I think in Binary and exclusive or each letter I'm reading with 82 Hexadecimal, so I fool my brain into thinking it's just noise and I'm asleep.As a result however,, I cant remember much ,but Now I can read the same thing 50 times as if it's the first , and this saves me money on E books too.

sound bites (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368902)

Gadgets force us to communicate in sound bites. We dig the new shiny. Our attentions no longer span, but spin. Subtle phrasing replaced by clever phrasing replaced by catch phrases. "Think" is a four-letter word. Four letter words are old school. Grammar mocked as elitist. Push2Talk is DoubleSpeak. Allusions wander, lost. News at 11.

related article about rafting trip (2, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#33368948)

Several high-power professor types go "off the grid" on a backcountry rafting rafting trip. [nytimes.com] Initially there was some anxiety about being incommunicato, but it fades quickly.

I notice the same. I think about work the first day of a backcountry trip or vacation. But then stop thinking about work by the second day.

I agree! (1)

wfstanle (1188751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369042)

When I have a really vexing programming problem, I often think of a real creative way to solve it in the moments in bed waiting to fall asleep. The ideas do not occur while I am asleep but when I am fully awake waiting to fall asleep. I am quite sure that the time when nothing is happening is very important to the creative process. Other people might be different but I find this is true for me.

Just do some meditation then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33369246)

20 minutes a day, you just sit there and quiet your mind, trying to visualize a mundane object or repeating a meaningless mantra. Works wonder, and you might learn some important stuff about yourself while at it :)

wetware downtime (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369430)

Didn't that used to be called sleep ..

This is why TV is our first, best friend. (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369530)

Television gives us so much and asks so little in return. Why must you be so tempted by hours of web surfing?

Just turn off you brain and give TV your whole day. There's probably a Deadliest Catch marathon you could be watching.

screw constant connectivity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33369572)

In recent years I've half wondered if I'd become somewhat of a neoluddite. I pass on facebook, twitter or any social networking -- not that I doubt that those are to some extent useful tools that allow families & friends to keep in touch, but from my vantage point the overwhelming majority of people allow these tools to become far too invasive in their lives. Hell, in May I test drove the HTC Incredible (bought it outright), and after ~4 weeks of playing with it I concluded that while it came in handy _at times_ , I really didn't need it. This, in addition to surfing the web with such a small screen being a bit frustrating at times, lead me back to my trusty nokia 3589i.

If I have down time I get the hell outside. yesterday I walked home and decided to take the long way, despite the lingering rain showers after one wicked thunderstorm. Got soaked in those 25 minutes, but it was better than any time spent connected to the net (dare I say, even better than lurking in these here parts ;-) I find that I'm happier than I've ever been.

Now get off my lawn!

Only if you let them (1)

MpVpRb (1423381) | more than 4 years ago | (#33369582)

I frequently disconnect, unplug and become unreachable for some time each day.
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