Is smart technology making us dumb?

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We have access to more information than ever before, but is this making us smarter, as we have been promised, or just limiting our ability to think?

Constant messages, alerts and emails create an environment of distraction. It is great for the immediate delivery of news and information. But is it creating problems for the retention of information?

The multi-tasking ability presented by our constant access to our devices is taking a heavy toll on our cognitive function, according to a Stanford study.

The study compared a group of people who spent a lot of time online and multi-tasking with a group that did not and gave them three basic tests of cognitive function. The heavy multitaskers did worse on all three tests.

People who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time, according to the researchers.

Nicholas Carr, author of ‘The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains’ believes being peppered with messages and bits of information frustrates the mind’s ability to think deeply.

“The average person with a smartphone will pull out the phone and look at it about 150 times a day,” Mr Carr believes.

When using these devices, the average user touches their phone around 2617 times per day, in lots of little sessions.

“We’re losing that contemplative, focused, attentive state of mind that is crucial to the creation of knowledge and deep thinking in general,” Mr Carr states.

The key to building knowledge is taking information from your conscious mind and storing it in your long-term memory, creating meaningful connections and associations between what we are learning and the information that we already know. The constant interruptions and distractions of our smart devices are therefore disturbing memory consolidation and also limiting our ability to think creatively.

Andrew Keen, author of the book ‘The Internet is Not the Answer’, says that despite access to such a wide variety of information, most people are narrowing their focus to confirm their pre-existing beliefs instead of seeking out different perspectives.

While there is some evidence to suggest a decrease in cognitive function due to our smart technology, it isn’t going away any time soon. Perhaps the best advice is to take an occasional ‘digital detox’ and set aside some time each day where you are free from the interruptions of your smart technology.

What do you think? Is our smart technology making us the smartest generation or is it limiting our ability to think through our problems and find our own solutions?

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Total Comments: 13
  1. 0

    Is our smart technology making us the smartest generation or is it limiting our ability to think through our problems and find our own solutions?

    Anyone who has had the misfortune to be present when a computer goes down whilst attempting to complete a transaction of any kind, will know that until the computer comes back online again – you’re screwed! One day the whole world will cease to operate.

  2. 0

    Not surprised at all. I need plenty of space to think, and hate all that noise and static.

    I have disconnected my mobile from the internet, declined to use facebook etc, and find that one laptop with email, and normal phone, maintains an optimum balance plus safe activity and social politeness. Enough is quite enough.

    • 0

      I agree with you, I don’t do social media, and have a standard phone, refuse to get a smartphone, and just use a 10 year old laptop. I take a walk in nature everyday to detox.

  3. 0

    Smart technology of recent times , iPhones , iPads , etc are not the only reason for the problems , schools don’t teach spelling , sentence construction , and maths , and problem solving , all of which make people think ,all you have to do is try getting change from a small purchase with cash to see people don’t know basic maths .

    • 0

      Agreed. I’m stunned by how often I’m given the wrong change even when the usually younger person has access to the register. Their mind does not register the obvious mistake. Meanwhile I’ve worked out the maths in my head.

  4. 0

    I was horrified at a family gathering a little while back to look around my lounge room & see my 3 kids, their spouses, my wife & 2 grand kids all had their noses buried in their smart phones.

    They have given me one of the things, & demand I carry it with me in the cars. Evidently I am no longer capable of fixing on the side of the road, the simple things likely to go wrong with my 37 year old car.

    I did despair for our future when my wife started talking to the youngest grand daughter, now 7 months old, on a smart phone. No wonder the kids have lost the ability to communicate face to face.

    • 0

      Very sad to see family’s with their heads in the smartphones, missing out on normal family interaction, I would have told them to all go home, I can’t bear to watch. Put a sign on the door ‘turn your phone off before entering’ .

  5. 0

    Agree pixie The children from kindergarten onwards are being dumbed down at School to prepare them for the future New World Order [One World Government]

  6. 0

    Its both. The internet has some amazing positives – self education, fix anything, communicate, ecommerce, have fun etc etc. HOWEVER – like anything we over indulge in it is ultimately bad for us and it is extraordinarily bad for children. We have switched them “off”. Not only can we transfer them at will into a virtual world of ridiculous video clips and 2 dimensional games when we extract them from that world they are angry, disobedient and take quite a considerable amount of time to settle. Not to mention that they a physically and socially totally deprived during computer time.
    I don’t think anyone realised quite how bad the affect on children would be. Unfortunately schools are using them “to educate” but it is so easy for the child to find their way to distraction and then the libraries are open at lunch time for the children to continue playing computer games.
    Schools are replacing text books with Ebooks. Sounds great doesn’t it – however it then becomes so easy to flip that textbook page and go off at a tangent so at the end of the lesson – achievement outcome – zero.
    Until we can control the internet computers in schools need to be severely limited. I was an advocate for classroom computers. I had no idea of the dire consequences.

  7. 0

    Yes I agree that smart technology if used too much will make us all dumb. Letting babies and young children use smartphones and ipads is a sure way to stifle their creative minds and also expose them to levels of radiation that their bodies may not cope with.

  8. 0

    You have an add from Web of Life re Scanguard, Ask Bob Rankin, Daves Compter Tips and Thundercloud all advise “beware this is a SCAM”

  9. 0

    catching the train into Perth, I counted the number of persons NOT on a iphone, ipad etc.
    Just 3 out of 27. Those 3 see the passing changes along the track, change is weather etc.
    The other 27 know nothing about what is going on outside the train. I rather feel sorry for them.
    Some of them sit next to one another, but instead of talking, text one another. What are we turning into???



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