I mentioned a while back that I had enjoyed reading Nicholas Carr's book, "The Shallows." It is a great read that attracted me because it addressed a symptom I have been experiencing in my own life: Prolonged interaction with the internet makes it harder for me to think and write creatively.

While Carr deals with this topic, I have found others who question the research and conclusions he draws from it. Most recently, I ran across a report from www.nominetrust.org.uk  that does a nice job of presenting facts and conclusions (and sometimes the acknowledgment of the lack of conclusions). I encourage you to read The impact of digital technologies on human wellbeing EVIDENCE FROM THE SCIENCES OF MIND AND BRAIN.

The report does a nice job of avoiding an agenda. It is a report, not a marketing piece. This excerpt from the Executive Summary demonstrates this position:

-Rather than label any type of technology as being good or bad for our brain, it is how specific applications are created and used (by who, when and what for) that determine their impact. 
− Existing forms of online communication for supporting existing friendships are generally beneficial for their users, with little basis for considering that social network sites and online communication, in themselves, are a source of special risk to children. Internet-related abuse (eg inappropriate sexual solicitation, cyberbullying) appears related to issues beyond the use of the internet.
− Internet use (including online gaming) is problematic when it regularly interferes with normal daily living and is difficult to control, although internet/gaming addictions have not been established as psychiatric disorders. No particular threshold has been identified that can be defined as excessive use, but research supports a guideline of maximum two hours total screen-based entertainment per day for children. Problematic internet usage is associated with a range of psychosocial difficulties, but the internet can also support mental health through online therapeutic treatment for a range of mental health disorders.
− The internet is a valuable learning resource and all learning involves changes in the brain. Some technology-based types of training can improve working memory, and others can provide mental stimulation that helps slow cognitive decline. 
− Some types of gaming (whether on-line or off line) can improve visual processing and motor response skills, prompting suggestions that games may represent a particularly effective way to enhance brain plasticity across the lifespan. The mechanisms involved are still not understood, but may help explain the effectiveness of such games to also influence affective response. Playing violent and prosocial video games generally shifts behavioral tendencies towards aggressiveness and empathy respectively. Gaming can strongly engage the brain’s reward system, and this may also help 
explain their attractiveness.

It is a beast of a document, so grab a pot of coffee and settle in. Enjoy!

Do you have any shifts in abilities, thought process or skill sets that you experience from prolonged internet activity?