Your (Customer’s) Brain on Computers, Part 1

no matter how much we limit our own time online, the fact remains: our customers probably don’t. To put it bluntly, our biggest source of competition anymore may not be our competitors, but what’s going on in our customers’ heads! So we need to take special care to structure our messages to both capture and keep their attention despite any adverse effects their brains may be experiencing.

The internet is more than a way for customers to find you. It actually changes the structure of their brains. This series of articles reveals how – and offers tips on attracting and retaining online visitors.
photo credit: Saad Faruque via photopin cc

How much time do you spend online?

If you’re anywhere close to average, it’s somewhere  between 25 and 27 hours per week. 1

That’s right. We spend nearly a quarter of our waking hours plugged in, and that’s not including the time we spend on other electronic devices, including our cell phones and our kid’s handheld gaming devices (admit it!)

Now, hold onto your chair. When you surf the web, you’re accomplishing more than shopping for shoes or chatting up your Facebook friends. Behind the scenes, what you’re really doing is rewiring your brain.

It’s true.  And you may not want to hear what you’re doing to it – but I’m going to tell you anyway.

How the Internet affects our brains

Research on the Internet’s effect on brain activity indicates that it contributes to attention deficit, addictive behavior, scattered thinking, loss of focus, and reduced ability to read human emotions.  In some cases, the effects can be physically measured: one recent study of 18 college students found that excessive internet use actually resulted in atrophy of gray matter in the brain. 2

Clearly, this is a serious issue. Due to my occupation, I admit to spending far more than the average amount of time online, and I can personally attest to feeling some of the effects.  I am starting to take steps to limit my (and my kids’) time online, and I highly suggest that you consider doing so, too.

But no matter how much we limit our own time online, the fact remains: our customers probably don’t.  To put it bluntly, our biggest source of competition anymore may not be our competitors, but what’s going on in our customers’ heads!

So we need to take special care to structure our messages to both capture and keep their attention despite any adverse effects their brains may be experiencing.

>Read Part 2            >>Read Part 3

References:

  1. Millennials Up Their Time Online, MarketingCharts.com, Jan.21, 2013
  2. Does Life Online Give You ‘Popcorn Brain?’, CNN Health,  June 23, 2011