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The Internet’s Effect on Deep Thinking: Insights from iParent

Parenting in today’s digital age is undeniably challenging. With technology, the internet, and social media dominating our lives, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of notifications and updates. So how do we guide our children through the digital world’s maze without a map? Neha J Hiranandani‘s iParent is a friendly companion for parents navigating the complexities of raising kids in a digital age. Packed with practical advice and a dash of humor, it’s the go-to resource for fostering cyber-savvy kids without the stress.

Read this exclusive excerpt to know more!

iParent || Neha J Hiranandani


I remember reading about the Flynn effect in college. Buried neck-deep in books and classes, it was heartening to read that improved access to nutrition and better schools had made humans smarter in the twentieth century. Perfect grades seemed more achievable—after all, we had all become collectively smarter! That buoyancy, however, lasted just a few short decades. As things stand, the world is experiencing a reversal of the Flynn effect, and global IQ scores have dropped precipitously by six points. The truth is, we’re all turning a bit doltish. As one expert puts it, ‘People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact.’


Most of us experience this doltishness every day. It’s getting harder to remember the names of colleagues, words stay permanently suspended on the tips of our tongues, and really, who can remember anyone’s birthday anymore? The Internet has fundamentally altered the way we process information, and as a result, we’re all struggling to focus. Every time we go online, our brains get subtly rewired. And since we are online so much, our brains are constantly adapting to accommodate the Internet’s deluge of small, shallow fragments of information.


Nicholas Carr, one of the most influential thinkers of our times, Is the author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, which went on to become a Pulitzer Prize finalist. ‘I’m not thinking the way I used to think,’ says Carr. The Internet, he says, ‘is chipping away [the] capacity for concentration and contemplation.’ Online activity, especially when we’re restlessly ping ponging from one activity to another makes us lose focus. Jumping from text to email, opening one tab and then quickly clicking on another, switching frantically back and forth between news and notifications—all of this destroys the calm brain and creates a new kind of mind, one that becomes comfortable processing information in quick, fragmented bursts. The faster, the better.


As Carr’s book title implies, over time our brains lose the ability to go deep. We start living in the shallows. ‘Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now, I zip along the surface like a guy on a jetski,’ he says. Admittedly, living life on a jetski sounds like great fun but you are likely to encounter a few problems. With all that wind in your hair, salt in your eyes and the world whizzing by, it’s difficult to make thoughtful decisions. It’s tough to stop and deeply appreciate beauty on a jetski or to meaningfully engage with an intractable problem. Given that our circuitry is so malleable, the more we stay online, the more we train our brains to be distracted. We can rapidly process snippets of information, but sustained attention becomes massively challenging. The longer we are on the jetski, the more challenging it is to get off it.


It’s not just Carr; scores of experts agree that the human brain simply wasn’t built for the endless game of ping-pong tantalizingly offered by our phones. The consequences seem especially disturbing for iGen which is growing up with easy and immediate access to information which ultimately has an effect on how the kids function, both emotionally and otherwise. Experts suggest that this generation will have ‘a thirst for instant gratification and quick fixes, a loss of patience and a lack of deep-thinking ability.’ Screenagers’ are not the only ones affected. Nine and ten-year-olds indulging in over two hours of screen time per day scored lower on thinking and language tests. Some kids saw a premature thinning of the cerebral cortex as they spent time on screens—their grey matter was disappearing.


Disappearing grey matter or not, it’s hard to stop! Regardless of which generation we belong to, none of us can stop pinging. Every notification, every distraction is a little dopamine nugget in disguise and it’s challenging to focus on something when you’re used to getting a reward hit every few seconds. Drunk on dopamine, we start liking the distractions. We seek them out. The more we seek them, the more we click and the more we click— bullseye!—the more accurately the algorithm can place irresistible links directly in our fields of vision. Think about the last time that you went to a shopping mall. You likely had a salesperson come up and ask you to try a product. It’s usually not a big deal because you’re likely to only encounter a couple of pushy salespeople per mall visit. But when you’re online, the push and pulls come at you from all directions!


‘Have you tried this new recipe?’ Potatoes, green onions and a touch of mustard.’

‘Are you looking to lose ten kilos in twenty days?’

‘Have you checked out the season’s hottest filter?’

‘Become a millionaire overnight. Join our mailing list for just Rs 199’

‘Join our community to always feel happy.’

‘Free shipping on this summer’s hottest perfume that will make you smell like Italian lemons.’

‘Are you bored? Lonely? Depressed?’ Here are fourteen essential oils that you need right now.’

‘Looking for love? There’s a big surprise waiting for you.’

‘Get discounted Diwali hampers when you order in March.’


The sales push doesn’t end because whether it’s essential oils or real estate, the algorithm knows what we want better than anyone else. So, we click on these irresistible links, breaking our attention, disrupting our concentration and creating an avalanche of lost focus, which in turn, overtaxes our brains. And wouldn’t you know it, an overtaxed brain finds distractions more distracting, and there it is: a self-perpetuating dependence loop. We click and lose focus, which makes us want to click all the more. Clickety-click we go all day, tappity tap we go all night, leaking data and losing focus all the while.


Get your copy of iParent by Neha J Hiranandani wherever books are sold.

Behind the Digital Curtain: An Excerpt from ‘Cyber Encounters’

In this age of rapid technological advancements, our lives are intricately intertwined with the digital world. From online purchases to virtual education and personal communication to financial transactions, all of it is now possible at the click of a button and facilitated by deeply interconnected networks. With such pleasing convenience, however, comes the imminent presence of Cyber threats that can disrupt and compromise our online activities and endanger our privacy, paving the way for Cybercrimes around the world.
In this riveting book, Cyber Encounters, authors Ashok Kumar and O.P.Manocha dive into the notorious Cyberspace and bring forth tales of cybercrime based on real events.
Read this exclusive excerpt to catch a glimpse of one such story.
Cyber Encounter
Cyber Encounter || Ashok Kumar and O.P Manocha
The Republic of Cameroon is a small country in West Central Africa, bordered by the Republic of Congo and Nigeria. It has a population of 25 million (2.5 crore) and is popularly known as “Africa in Miniature” due to its geographical, linguistic, and cultural diversity. But what not many people know about this remote country is that many cybercrimes originate here.
It was a car accident that killed Dy Commandant Ajay. He was returning from a pilgrimage to Pauri, Uttarakhand, with his wife Madhu and two beautiful daughters, Diya and Sakshi. Madhu, her daughters and the driver of the car escaped unhurt. One month had passed since the accident and Madhu was still shocked and emotionally unstable. Diya, who was 15 years old, was Madhu’s elder daughter and a student of Class 9. After the death of her father, she had become very quiet. She neither watched television nor played online games like her classmates. Her only friend was her sister Sakshi, who was two years younger than her.
The Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in them all being forced to stay home, with classes also being held online. There was fear all around and people were dying. Even children were suffering from depression. “Mom, I don’t have any friends and no place to go. Whom shall I play with?” Diya asked Madhu. “Pihu has such an adorable beagle, why don’t you get me a dog too?”
Madhu had always been apprehensive about getting a dog. Her elder sister, Sanvi, had a three-year old female beagle, Daisy, who kept her and her daughter Pihu on their toes, and Madhu had seen her plight. Sanvi had to give Daisy a bath every week, get her groomed and make frequent visits to the vet during the monsoon, when Daisy got persistent fungal infections on her paws as she could not help playing in the garden and came back wet. And the most arduous job was to walk the dog three times a day without fail! Madhu, who was also grief-stricken due to her husband’s recent death, thought it would be a real nuisance to have a dog. Who would take care of it? So she kept procrastinating and did not pay much heed to Diya’s demand to get a dog.
One day, Madhu was sitting on the balcony with Diya when she got a call from her friend, Neha, who lived in the same society, that their neighbour’s 12-year-old daughter had died due to Covid. this was shocking. Madhu ended the call and looked at Diya with gloomy eyes. Diya asked her what was wrong, so Madhu told her about the girl. though Diya did not know her, she went quiet, her face drawn with fear. She hugged her mother and said, “Mom, are we also going to die?” this brought tears to Madhu’s eyes. She held Diya tight in her arms and said, “No, my dear, God is not so unkind.”
This one moment changed Madhu’s mind. Diya’s 15th birthday was in a fortnight. She would be going to Class 10 and would be giving the board exams next year. Diya was already under great stress and the boards would definitely add to it, Madhu thought. It was now that Madhu decided that she would give Diya a dog on her birthday.
Madhu looked up to Sanvi for advice on every little thing. She called her up and told her about her idea of buying a pup for Diya. Sanvi advised her to go in for a smaller breed as Madhu stayed in a flat and big dogs need a lot of space to move around. She suggested that she buy a cocker spaniel, which is quite a playful and loving breed. So Madhu began her search for a cocker spaniel. She sent a message on the WhatsApp groups she was a part of, asking if any cocker spaniel pup was available for sale. She also searched on Google and came across a few dog sellers whose contacts were listed on a local search engine website.
Madhu always believed that whatever information there was on the internet was authentic. The first listing on the website displayed a picture of a cute cocker spaniel. Madhu had struck gold! Little did she know that she was going to be trapped on a dummy website that offered the sale and purchase of various household goods, and even animals.
The seller had managed to get a good rating through paid reviews and had posted eye-catching pictures of the pup to secure a top position in the listings. The next day was a Sunday. Madhu was sweating as she finished preparing breakfast for the family. She switched on the air conditioner and sat down on the sofa to contact the seller on the number she had obtained from the website the previous night. she preferred contacting the seller on WhatsApp rather than calling as it provided a record of any conversation for future reference. She sent a message asking for details of the pup. She promptly got a reply from the seller, who introduced herself as Shweta.
She sent some cute pictures of the pup to Madhu, who was mesmerised. She immediately responded to Shweta, asking her to send details, including the price and availability, of the pup. Shweta told her that the pup was a purebred. Its registration with the Kennel Club of India (KCI) would be done shortly. It would cost Madhu Rs 15,000 and she would have to pay Rs 5,000 as an advance and the rest upon receiving the pup. Madhu immediately made her a payment of Rs 5,000 on GPay. Booking done, she told Diya about the pup. The girl’s happiness knew no bounds.
Two days later, on June 22, Madhu got an email with a bill of Rs 1,03,300 and the details of an SBI account into which to transfer the money. The charges included the price of the pup, COVID-handling charges, vaccination fees, feeding charges, and transport expenditure.
The mail stated that this amount would be refunded to her once the puppy was transported to Dehradun and the entire cost would be borne by the seller except for the price of the puppy. Madhu sent Shweta an enquiry about the mail and once she was convinced, she registered the account number as a beneficiary and transferred the required amount. She took a screenshot of the transaction and sent it through WhatsApp to Shweta. she got a message that the insurance process would be initiated the next day and the pup would be hers soon.
Get your copy of Cyber Encounters from Amazon today.
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