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Technology And The Millennial Brain

Recent studies show the average millennial (those born between 1980 and 2000) spends 18 hours a day consuming media, with the majority online or on their mobile device.  According to the PEW Research Center, 90% of millennials use social media.  As technology continues to become more prevalent in the lives of young people, just how much is brain development influenced?

Elaina Zachos, Public Source reporter and author of “Technology is Changing the Millennial Brain,” says that the areas of the brain most affected by technology are the prefrontal cortex and cerebellum.  These areas control personality, cognitive function and communication skills. 

Zachos explains that the way in which one uses technology has a significant impact on brain development, as the brain does not develop fully until age 25.

“If you’re doing more texting than just talking to people in person, then that will affect how different parts of the brain are developing,” Zachos says.

Through her research, Zachos found that many millennials feel it is easier to hide behind technology for potentially awkward situations, or even sometimes to break up uncomfortable eye contact during in-person conversation. 

Although Zachos notes the negative effects of technology on the millennial brain in her piece, she also shares some positives, including how technology allows young people to be more informed and more creative in their communication.

Irene Prendergast, owner and president of the human resources consulting firm Advanced Workforce Solutions in Moon Township, has seen this influence first-hand in the corporate setting. 

As millennials become adults and enter the workforce, Prendergast says the traditional setting isn’t always ideal for them.  She says she has to work with young people and the older workers to strike a balance in the office.

“This really impacts the way people work together because millennials will just pick up their iPhones and do a Google or Wikipedia search, where your traditionals, we’re going to go through the process of doing something,” Prendergast says.

Prendergast also says that it is the company’s responsibility to teach people to work with each other to get over this barrier.  While she admits that there is a barrier between older and younger generations in the workplace, she believes these cultural changes will ultimately be good for the future of business.

“There are multiple generations in a workforce today.  It’s just introducing a new culture.”

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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