Interactivity with technology is a concept that recently has begun to be a far more significant aspect of our day to day lives. Over the past few years we have made advancements in technology that allow us to interact with technology on many different levels, but what exactly is the impact of that?
Apart from the social and educational issues that were addressed in various preceding replies we can also look at interactivity from a neurological point of view. Eileen Hazelaar, a recently retired Brain Stimulating Method therapist, states that interactivity can be split into three levels: light, medium and heavy.
Light interactivity only occupies a small percentage of your brain’s capacity. An example would be listening to your Ipod, as it only give you audio input and nothing else. Medium interactivity would be something like watching television. Your brain has to work harder to interpret the stimuli it receives from this single piece of technology, and devotes more and more attention to it. Heavy interactivity almost fully occupies your attention, as it provides a large variety of stimuli, and often requires the user to provide stimuli in return. The biggest example of this is playing video games. Your brain receives constant visual and aural input, which constantly changes and requires the user to output as well. It puts the brain under heavy strain, and leaves little room for other interactions.
How is this important to us? When we create an environment that is interactive we must always keep in mind how the user’s brain has limited capacities. We can only take in so much before we become overloaded and crash. Interactivity can be great, and we all enjoy it, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing.
Source: Interview with Eileen Hazelaar-Poortman, Retired Brain Therapist