Has anyone else noticed how powerful the allure of digital screens is? I’ll hazard a guess the answer is a resounding “yes.” We can’t go anywhere these days without seeing people glued to their smartphones. Why is this the case? There are many reasons, but I assert a primary one is that digital screens offer almost irresistible interactivity and brain stimulation. I’m thinking this would make a great science fair experiment using DIY EEGs like my friend, Bill Casebeer, demonstrated at a NYC Maker Faire in 2013. Compare measured brain activity when reading different kinds of paper books, versus engaging in different kinds of activities using a smartphone. The control condition would be measured brain activity when subjects are sitting quietly in a darkened room.

This weekend I optimistically brought not one, but three paperback books that I’m in various stages of reading for both fun and for work. Did I spend much time in these books the past two nights when I’ve had plenty of opportunities to do so? Nope.

Instead, I’ve chosen my iPhone and iPad to read, watch videos, listen to podcasts, and share my learning via Twitter. (52 tweets during the entire day Saturday, 26 tweets in the evening as I read and consumed/shared media.) It seems crazy, but it’s true.

Indeed digital screens are powerful, as we all should acknowledge and understand. Even though we are literally surrounded by screens at times in today’s society, I don’t think we yet fully appreciate just how powerful they truly are… or the “digital discipline” required to overcome their attraction for and influence on our minds.

Revenge Of Return Of The Jedi by JD Hancock, on Flickr
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