Does the Internet Hurt Your Brain Function?

Dr. Frank Shallenberger, MD

February 12, 2024


Using the computer to surf the Internet can certainly make you crazy. But can it make you smarter?

And what is the effect of regularly surfing the internet on your overall brain function?

The answers may surprise you.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona spent four years tracking 8,238 dementia-free men and women. They analyzed how much time they spent online, and how likely they were to get dementia.

During that period, 301 (5.01%) of them developed dementia. And, after eliminating all other factors that could have caused dementia, they found that amazingly, those who used a computer to surf the net were a full 40% less likely to develop dementia. So, how does this cognitive-enhancing effect compare to other mental activities?

Reading magazines regularly decreases the likelihood of dementia by 30%. Attending social events decreases the chance by 23%. And the regular use of crafts, such as knitting, decreases the chance by 16%.

So, now I don’t feel so bad about having to sit in front of a computer every day to find useful information for my readers. There is one caution: “Doomscrolling” social media won’t have the same positive impact. There are lots of studies talking about how that has a negative impact on your brain.

While there’s no way that you can trust the majority of the information online, sorting through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff improves my chances of living long and thinking strong. I love my job!


d'Orsi E, Xavier AJ, et al. Is the use of the internet in midlife associated with lower dementia incidence? Results from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing, Aging & Mental Health, 22:11, 1525-1533,DOI: 10.1080/13607863.2017.1360840

Logging reduces dementia risk, by Ben Spencer, Medical Correspondent for The Daily Mail, PUBLISHED: 20:53 EDT, 3 March 2016 | UPDATED: 21:20 EDT, 3 March 2016.

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