Twenty-five years have passed since the invention of the World Wide Web changed society by allowing unfettered access to the Internet. How this technological revolution has affected brain development continues to be an open question. There is particular concern about how Internet use is affecting the brains of adolescents. This Forum article discusses the possible effects of the Internet, as well as the behaviors and capabilities associated with its use, on the adolescent brain.
In the 25 years since the World Wide Web was invented, our way of interacting with each other and our collective history has changed. Successfully navigating this new world is likely to require new skills, which will be reflected in our neural architecture on some level. However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that Internet use has or has not had a profound effect on brain development. Finally, even if Internet use is impacting the developing brain during adolescence, we must not forget that the brains of adults remain capable of functional change. Indeed, Internet-based training programs are being developed to capitalize on just that.