Is Technology Making us Dumber?

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As I type a text message to a friend to say that I can’t make dinner, I of course type in cant. I know auto-correct will put in the apostrophe for me. Lazy am I? Oh most definitely. The concern today isn’t about laziness of spelling out a word correctly; it is the issue of children growing up using auto-correct and then never realizing how to spell something in the first place. Annie Paul of Time Magazine wrote an article about this topic and researched how technology is hurting today’s youth:

“A study led by researchers at the University of Coventry in Britain surveyed a group of eight- to twelve-year-olds about their texting habits, then asked them to write a sample text in the lab. The scientists found that kids who sent three or more text messages a day had significantly lower scores on literacy tests than children who sent none.”

Scary statistic? I think so. All these new technologies are created to make our lives easier, more efficient, but does it ultimately make us smarter? There are many doubts. The simple pleasure of sitting down and reading books and newspapers has been replaced with televisions, iPads, and video games. Ever start browsing the web for no purpose and all of a sudden you are blurry-eyed and notice two hours have past? Well, I will admit, it has happened to me. I feel frustrated and stressed because nothing was accomplished. I got sucked into the web atmosphere and couldn’t find my way out. Did I learn anything educational, one may ask…. nope. I found out shoes I couldn’t afford are now on sale and I still can’t afford to buy them. Not left with a good feeling after a supposed “relaxing browsing session.” Concentration seems harder now then it used to. Nicholas Carr wrote a controversial article for The Atlantic stating that:

“Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text-messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice. But it’s a different kind of reading, and behind it lies a different kind of thinking—perhaps even a new sense of the self.”

This new kind of reading is quick, not anywhere like reading a novel. We skim, click, and open multiple tabs all before realizing we are on a tangent. Links go to different webpage’s and your breezing through page after page and before you know it you forget the main point of research. Jeez this is exhausting.

So does technology make us dumber? Perhaps it does a bit but it’s a double-edged sword. Without it we would appear lost and with it we take it for granted.

Loren Springsteen

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2 thoughts on “Is Technology Making us Dumber?

  1. I was just talking to a friend about how terrible I am at spelling. We both reacted by claiming that spelling is no longer important and that tools like “spell check” and “auto correct” have disposed the necessity to learn to spell. Of course, this makes us “dumber” in the sense that the art of spelling has been lost. However, the benefits and disadvantages of this can be debated. While we no longer have the skills to spell sans technological help, we now all have the ability to spell things correctly (a luxury I would not have otherwise had). As a result, we can all communicate better by eliminating spelling mistakes, but at the cost of individuals learning spelling skills and becoming “dumber”. In my opinion, the ends justify the means in this instance.

  2. This is a great post, I have the same issue when writing papers. It is easy to use short words or symbols when texting. My issue with this is that I may send several texts throughout the day altering the way I write professionally if doing homework at the same time. The problem is that children text too much today. What happened to just picking up the phone and calling someone? It is even more important to teach correct grammar skills to children and teenagers to learn the proper use of language and how to read and write at an academic level more efficiently. Great Post!

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