Spark

Is podcast listening good for you?

This is your brain on podcasts.
Because a lot of the podcasts we listen to are informative, we can be tricked into believing they're good for us.
Listen11:36

"I Listen to 35 Hours of Podcasts Every Week. Is That … Bad?"

This is a real question Sirena Bergman has asked herself.

Sirena is a freelance journalist in London, UK and she listens to thirty-five hours of podcasts a week! Thirty. Five. HOURS.

That's roughly five hours a day. How is that even possible?

"I subscribe to about 150 podcasts on my app," admits Sirena, "I listen on my way to and from work, I listen while I'm on public transport, I listen while I'm cooking, while I'm cleaning, while I'm doing basic life admin."

That's a lot of listening!

"Yeah I do listen to a lot, but I don't have a TV," she says, "And I don't listen to music as much anymore."

Okay, so Sirena really, really likes podcasts. But she wondered whether all that intense listening was having an effect on her brain. Was it actually good for her?

So she talked to psychologists and neuroscientists to find out. Her exploration resulted in an article for The Cut, What is listening to podcasts all day doing to my brain?

"There is interesting research around how we digest information," Sirena explains.

And because a lot of the podcasts we listen to are informative, we can be tricked into believing they're good for us and that we're learning something from them.

"But the reality is in order for our brain to actually digest that information we need time to process it and we're not giving ourselves that time by finishing an episode of This American Life and listening straight on to the next one!"

In related news this week, Edison Research and The Knight Foundation published a report that, among other things, identified a subset of the podcast audience as "super listeners".

So Sirena certainly isn't alone!

And in the opposite corner from podcast "super listeners" there are the "podfasters". Yes, people who prefer to listen to their podcasts faster than the producers intended. On 2x speed. Sometimes 3x!

It's an old debate, but brought to the fore again this past week with an article in Buzzfeed that's got everyone in the podcasting world talking --again about what is lost when you listen at high speeds. 

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