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Infobesity - An Overdose Of Information

The advent of technology has resulted in wider access to information across the world. A person often comes across multiple sources of information online. There are pages and pages of resource available on a topic. The vastness of information not only increases the knowledge, but also leads to ‘infobesity’ or ‘infoxication’. Everyone, especially students across different stages of learning are susceptible to this overdose of information.

What is infobesity?

Infobesity is a term coined by Alvin Toffler in 1970 and is used to indicate information overload, a situation where there’s too much information on a given topic. Information can be grasped through media like TV and smart devices, and communication with others, like family and school.

A recent research on media consumption found a gradual increase among children, in the hours spent. Children between 3 to 4 years of age spent nearly 6-8 hours a week consuming media. This increase to 7-9 hours a week in children aged 5 to 7 years. Children between 8 to 15 spent nearly 10-21 hours a week consuming information.

What causes infobesity?

Infobesity can be caused by numerous factors like:

  1. Many information sources Information from various sources can lead to infobesity. Using different mediums of information, different websites or social media can also lead to an overdose of information.

  2. Too much of information The development in technology has helped people to access information from different sources. A search on a particular topic can yield hundreds of websites with a lot of information. This can lead to information overload or data asphyxiation, where the brain feels choked due to the amount of information available.

  3. Lack of time to assimilate information When the time taken to process a given piece of information is too less, it leads to an overload. A person needs a minimum amount of time to read, understand and process the information.

  4. Technology Being constantly connected to technology can also result in infobesity. Smart devices provide a person with information on the go, merely to stay updated. This often gets misused and people end up loading themselves with information, which results in infoxication.

  5. Not realizing when to stop With the vast information that is available, a person should realise when to stop. Children for instance do not adhere to screen time and end up overusing the technology, leading to infobesity.

What can infobesity lead to?

Information overload can lead to a series of issues in children and adults, like:

  1. Fatigue and stressFatigue and stress occur together. Fatigue leads to tiredness and an over-exposure to information leaves a person drained mentally and physically. It can also lead to stress where the person is too tired to carry on any activity or participate in the class.

  2. Attention Disorder Exposing children to too much of information can result in Attention Disorder, where a child is unable to pay attention to his/her surroundings beyond a certain point of time.

  3. Low productivity Productivity gets affected if the brain is loaded with too much of information. The person tends to feel distracted all the time and is unable to concentrate on the task in hand.

  4. Lack of confidence A person with an overload of information lacks the confidence required to carry himself/herself in a situation. He/she begins to exhibit change in attitude and communication which conveys a negative feeling to the others.

  5. Memory loss Information overload can also lead to memory loss where the person tends to forget important details.

Combatting infobesity:

Tackling infobesity is the need of the hour for children and adults alike.

Though technology detox is the ideal solution to tackle information overload, few other steps can be taken to avoid ‘infoxication’.

  1. Prioritising The information can be prioritised on the level of importance. Information which seems relevant and important can be retained while any other unnecessary information can be discarded.

  2. Filtering Information should be filtered for relevance. If a topic pertains to a particular age group, only then should it be retained in the mind. Retaining everything that is read will lead to an overdose of information.

  3. Reducing screen time Children and adults should try to keep the screen time at the minimal level. A recent research indicated that, reducing screen time can improve cognitive skills and memory.

  4. Taking it slow Any information read needs time to be processed by the brain. It is advised to take the processing in a slow manner, by reading one topic at a time rather than trying to accommodate a variety of information.

  5. Taking breaks Breaks are an important for the cognitive process. Taking breaks amidst information assimilation is known to have a positive effect on the brain and its functioning.

Too much of anything is bad, this applies not only to the food one consumes, but also to the information that one assimilates. By taking certain precautions, infobesity can be curbed at the initial stage itself.

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