Social media, computer
Excess use of the internet and social media can interfere with the brain’s capacity to store information, a new study says.marshillonline/Flickr

Excess use of the internet and social media can interfere with the brain's capacity to store information, a new study says.

Erik Fransén, who teaches Computer Science at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, found that an idle brain is crucial for improving memory and that spending long hours on online activities placed the brain at increased risk of being hobbled by information overload.  

Fransén cautioned the public that excess involvement in social media can leave a negative impact on working memory or short-term memory. "Working memory enables us to filter out information and find what we need in the communication," hesaid in a news release. "It enables us to work online and store what we find online, but it's also a limited resource."

Working memory has the capacity to store only three or four items simultaneously and while spending time on the social media, the brain goes through alot of information and tries to store all of them, hindering the working memory.

Explaining the occurrence, Fransén, who is conducting research on working memory, said. "When you are on Facebook, you are making it harder to keep the things that are 'online' in your brain that you need."

"In fact, when you try to process sensory information like speech or video, you are going to need partly the same system of working memory, so you are reducing your own working memory capacity. And when you try to store many things in your working memory, you get less good at processing information," he added.

Important functions of the brain, like memory consolidation and storing information, takes place when the brain remains in an off-line mode. "When we max out our active states with technology equipment, just because we can, we remove from the brain part of the processing, and it can't work," he explained.

The results come at a time when social media websites like Facebook, Twitter and Orkut have become an unavoidable part of modern life. There exists several reasons to reduce online time. Previous studies have shown that young women who use the internet and social media for long hours were at greater risk of suffering from body shame, lower self-esteem and dissatisfaction with their weight.

In a shocking incident that happened in Japan last year, a 19-month-old baby died from high fever as his mother was engaged in an online chat for more than a day and neglected him.