Pamela Bjorklund, RN, PhD, CNS, PMHNP-BC, Associate Professor, Department of Graduate Nursing, The College of St. Scholastica
Gossamer Threads: The Impact of Digital Technology on the Developing Brain and Capacity for Empathy
Proximity, or closeness to others, shapes and sustains the responsibilities moral agents understand themselves to have. To comprehend and respond morally to other human beings, we must engage the capacity for empathy. Paradoxically, technology both brings us closer to each other and distances us from one another. Over time, exposure to technology has changed not only the way we live and communicate but also how we think, feel, and behave. It has altered brain development in digital natives in significant ways, impacting the human capacity for empathy, compassion, and connection with others. Spurred on by the accelerating exposure to digital technology, brain evolution is proceeding at such a rapid pace that some neuroscientists now assert that evolutionary change that took thousands of years in the past is now happening within a few generations. The rapid evolution is a mixed bag with good news and bad news, including that digital hard-wiring seems to come at the expense of certain interpersonal and meaning-making skills.
Dr. Bjorklund is an advanced practice psychiatric-mental health nurse who has taught at The College of St. Scholastica since 2000. Her areas of academic and scholarly expertise include advanced practice psychiatric nursing, nursing ethics, and nursing philosophy. In addition to full-time academic work, Dr. Bjorklund maintains a clinical practice as consultant to the Student Center for Health and Well-being, in which capacity she provides Psychiatric Services to the college’s student body, including diagnostic evaluations and ongoing psychotropic medication management.