How Much Technology Can Your Brain Handle? (Dopamine Stimulation)

dopamine dopamine desensitization dopamine detox dopamine healthy habits

Scandinavian Bob here hi, today we are going to talk about technology’s impact on the brain. 

Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I often talk about the reward system in our brain and how it can become desensitized if we overtax it with dopamine spiking stuff..., for example...

  • Alcohol
  • Sugary junk food
  • Online porn

...but what about social media and the internet itself, is it powerful enough to cause desensitization?

Related post: what's the purpose of a dopamine fast?

Can technology desensitize your dopamine system?

Well, the short answer is yes, but before you freak out pay attention here.

First, we have to make it clear that desensitization is not an on or off thing.

Desensitization happens when the dopamine receptors become downregulated.

This means that if we take 100 people out of the population, some of them are going to be just mildly desensitized, others more severe.

Desensitization is not an "on-off" thing. It's a spectrum...

In other words some are more desensitized than others, so to put it in a simplistic way,...

...if you look at the screen here (see video), the lower down the less dopamine receptors you have and then here in the middle is about what a normal healthy brain has.

So, it’s not an on-off thing but more of a scale.

And, if you are really healthy you can even go above normal, by doing things like cold showers, intermittent fasting and trying to avoid super stimulating stuff and so on.

How to know if the internet is desensitizing you...

Back to technology, how do you know if your internet use is causing down regulating your dopamine receptors?

Well, to be honest, most of us are probably desensitized to some degree.

I’m sorry, but this is just a price we have to pay for living in today's modern world. But remember the scale, it’s not like you’ll go all the way down just by normal internet use.

Constant dopamine hits online...

However, even with normal use, like browsing on Facebook, you keep getting small dopamine hits, because you got a notification that someone responded to your comment etc.

And normal use day in and day out will probably give you a small downregulation.

That is precisely because of the dopamine hits.

Ways to mitigate the negative effects...

So are there ways we can use the internet in order to minimize this? 

Yes there are and if you remember only one thing from this vide, make sure it’s the following words: 

“Are you using technology or is technology using you?”. 

Examples of different ways to navigate the internet... 

Let's take a look at a few different ways of spending time online...

GOOD: For example, if you go searching for some information online and you find it then YOU were using technology.

GOOD: If you go on Netflix, and you watch a whole movie as a way to entertain yourself, you are using technology and that’s all fine.

BAD: However, if you go on facebook, and you get dragged along and you end up aimlessly browsing, you know…

…”Oh a new update, who has liked my picture?Oh what's that over there?”...

And so you go there and see something new... and then that in turn leads you somewhere else. 

And before you know it, you have spent 90 minutes aimlessly browsing...well, then you did not use technology…

… technology used you!

And this is more desensitizing than the first example.

Dopamine escalation....

BAD: Another example of when you are being used is when you go on Instagram and you happen to see a hot fitness model…

…and it instantly grabs your attention and you go watch more of her pictures, and get completely dragged along by your reptilian brain…

… so much so that it now needs even more stimulating stuff.  So you open up an adult website, and there you start watching hardcore clips...

…and while you are watching one clip there are suggestions under the video that looks even more appealing so you start clicking on them, consuming only about 20 seconds or so of a clip…

… and then you AGAIN go to another suggestion!

Well here too you are getting dragged along and here too technology is using you.

Online porn is the worst activity for your dopamine system...

And by the way, the example with the adult websites is the worst one, because it keeps your dopamine levels sky high for so long that it really has the potential to put you far down here on the desensitization scale. 

The point being: the more you are in control, the better it is for your brain.

Here comes another phrase for you to remember: 

“Whenever you react to stimuli you are not in control, and when you are not in control, you are not happy”

So, from now on, every now and then ask yourself:

“Am I the one in the driving seat or is my smartphone sitting there?”

  • The more you are in control, the healthier your internet use is.
  • The more you are a slave to it, the quicker you’ll become desensitized. 

So watch your favorite YouTuber's.

Search for educational stuff.

Use it to learn and grow, that’s all healthy.

And there is also nothing wrong with using it as pure entertainment either, but then make a point of watching that specific page, or movie -  and then be mindful about it.  

Avoid aimless drifting...

Don’t start drifting on to other pages that you did not plan to go to, because it is that very moment that you are leaving the driving seat and technology starts taking control over you. 

You should always try to be the one who has control. 

80% of your internet use should be spent in a mindful way with a clear intention in mind....

A good goal for you to have is to try to get at least 80% of your internet use spent in a mindful way.

Another thing you can do to help your brain from getting desensitized, is to take a complete rest from the internet and your smartphone about 1-3 hours or so before bedtime. 

Operation blackout...(a small dopamine detox)

This is something I personally do, in fact my rule is 3 hours (* I tend to vary the length nowadays) before bedtime.  

I call it “operation blackout” 

Operation blackout is  a sort of intermittent dopamine detox, where I spend the last 3 hours of my days being as mindful as possible.

I read physical books, meditating and just spending time with myself and my thoughts.

 And you know what? 

I can honestly say that since I started doing that, I noticed a big increase in my baseline happiness. 

“Whenever you react to stimuli you are not in control, and when you are not in control, you are not happy.”

Alright, I hope you found the video informative, and if I ever helped you in some way and you feel that you’d like to help me by giving a little something in return,, you can always buy me a cup of coffee.

It’s a one time fee and a 100% secure donation system, so if you’d like to support my work you can find a link right here, and if you choose to buy me a cup of coffee...

...thank you so much!

 Scandinavian Bob really loves his coffee :)

Thanks for reading!

Related posts:

Take The FREE Dopamine Quiz Now...

Have all the instant gratifications you’ve been indulging in made your dopamine system underperform?

Find out if your dopamine system is working for you or against you…

Sign up to my FREE newsletter and I'll send you the quiz straight to your email inbox!

It may take a few minutes for the email to arrive.