Troublesome Topic: Social Media and Algorithms Are Hindering Brain Development

Lesson 1 of 10

Satisfaction of self is addictive!

That is the core problem behind why social media and the algorithms used on the internet are bad for us.

On my wife’s recommendation I listened with her to a podcast that opened my eyes in a shocking way. My first response was to say, “This is the most important information I have ever heard about social media and other aspects of the internet.”

That podcast is Allie Beth Stuckey’s “Relatable” podcast in which she interviews Dr. Nicholas Kardaras. Below I will give a short summary of the information in the podcast, but I highly encourage you listen to the podcast yourself. It is 56 minutes long. Here is a link to the podcast:

Or you can buy and read Dr. Kardaras’ latest book called Digital Madness.

There are three reasons why social media and algorithms damage the frontal lobe or hinder its development.

  1. Satisfying self is addictive! I don’t need to convince you that many people are addicted to their cell phones; you see it every day just like I do. When compared to TV and other uses of the internet, social media (including You Tube) is in a class all its own. It’s constantly available, and it constantly tries to give us what we want. We can choose one thing after another that gives us pleasure.
  2. If we spend lots of time satisfying self and very little time fulfilling responsibilities, we will hinder the development of the frontal lobe of our brains – that part that is in charge of decision-making and considering consequences. Social media is a world with no consequences; one only faces consequences when he reenters the physical world in which we live. To spend a big chunk of the time each day without consequences means that the part of our brain that deals with them becomes stunted.
  3. The algorithms built into the internet also play toward our self-centered desires. They are designed to see what we are looking at on-line and send us more of the same. The internet speaks from the ether and says, “Oh, you like that, OK, I will give you more of it. There is much more of what you like than you ever realized.” When such algorithms are coupled with social media, we end up with a group of friends or followers on-line that are very much like us. We seldom hear the other side of any issue, except when it is being ridiculed.

The frontal lobe of our brains is not fully developed until approximately age 25. Young children are affected most by the use of social media, and the more damage is done to their frontal lobe.

Dr. Kardaras says that the addiction can be broken if the addicted person stays off their phone for a month or more. He also recommends that parents delay giving their children a phone for as long as possible.

The good news is that damage to the frontal lobe does not seem to occur if someone uses the internet for business, research, education, etc. That is because the purpose is different. It is the constant gratifying of self through entertainment that is the problem.

Allow me to explain this problem with an illustration. Think about a king of ancient times, such as King Herod. Kings in those days could have anything they wanted- whatever it was, they could buy it or just take it. They could eat anything they wanted, any time they wanted to. And gaining weight was not a problem because they were expected to gain weight. They could have any type of entertainment they desired almost any time. They could also have sex just about any time they wanted to because they had numerous options for that as well.

Some people might consider that and say, “Wow, that sounds pretty good.” But don’t make a conclusion before we take the example to its logical conclusion.

Such a king would become accustomed to getting everything he wanted all the time. He seldom had to tell himself “no,” and none of his subjects would dare to tell him “no.” At some point this king would be confronted with a situation in which he had to decide whether to put himself first, or his subjects first. It could be an economic issue, a military endeavor, or some administrative decision. His lack of self-discipline up to that point meant that there was a high likelihood that he would put himself first and make others suffer. It was this scenario that created the brutal tyrants we read about in ancient history.

Constantly satisfying self without having to tell yourself “no,” is not only addictive, it is destructive. It destroys the will of the individual, and then it harms those around them.

In this section of our study of God’s covenants with mankind, I will show you what it looks like to apply the principles of God’s covenant to a specific aspect of life. I have chosen to apply them to our use of things like TV, movies, video games, social media, the internet in general, and music. I will hammer away at the problems caused by these things, and I do not apologize for doing so. The damage that entertaining ourselves with the internet is causing to our souls, our minds, and our society is impossible to measure. Alarm is a proper response to the grip that cell-phone-based access to the internet has on many people.

The next lesson in all three series on Covenants is: Don’t Seek to Satisfy Self