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Digital media changes young brains

News, 19 August 2016

SINGAPORE: Immersion in a digital world changes how the brain processes content and brands must understand this when marketing to "digital native" millennials and centennials, a neuroscience expert says.

In an exclusive article for Warc, Dr. Peter Steidl, neuromarketer and principal at strategic consultancy Neurothinking, notes that the human brain possesses the ability to change in response to the demands made on it – a process typically referred to as brain plasticity.

He argues that extensive exposure to digital media changes the brain's receptiveness to different types of messages, and thus the general impact of marketing activities. (For more, read the full article: Understanding the digital native's brain: How marketers can respond.)

While positive developments can come from intense and extensive exposure to a digital environment – including enhanced fluid intelligence (the ability to find solutions to practical problems) and faster reaction times – it also means that digital natives are less likely to be interested in complex messages.

Spending time on social media rather than face-to-face with other people leads to a deficiency in social skills, Steidl writes.

Important nuances – such as facial expression, tone of voice and body movements – lose significance as they are not a part of most digital interactions. Thus, marketers can't assume digital natives will pick up important nuances in ads or videos, so key messages should be clearly stated.

Exposure to the immediacy of information has also seen consumers spend much less time exploring contexts and options.

Marketers should keep things simple, says Steidl, and, if lengthy explanations are required, break them down into smaller steps, gamifying the experience to ensure dopamine release will motivate younger audiences to stick with brand messages.

Data sourced from Warc