The argument over whether technology is making people smarter or stupider has become something of an eternal debate over the years. One study revealed that the cognitive ability of people has increased continuously since 1930.
Some people agree that it's making people smarter and others think that the Internet only makes you think you are smarter. Another study says that 90% of people are suffering from so-called digital amnesia.
MEL Science is one company that believes kids are smarter than ever before, but there's still a place for offline learning. Through combining the power of the Internet and two innovative chemistry sets, they are determined to help children continue their education.
With the help of MEL Science, this guide is going to explain to you why technology has actually increased how smart kids are.
More Information than Ever
Try getting a kid to do their homework or read a book. Parents have been screaming at their kids to do something useful since the invention of education. These days they don't have to do that because they're doing it of their own accord via Google.
The difference is they have a library of information at their disposal. Previously, if you wanted to find out about a subject you had to go to the library and find the right book. Now all you have to do is type it into Google and you'll soon come across a Wikipedia page on that subject. The difference is you didn't have to move and it happened in less than ten seconds.
The sheer wealth of information alone is one reason why kids are smarter than ever before.
Doing it For Fun
Education and learning used to be something that kids found boring. Nobody likes to sit in front of a dusty textbook all day. They want to do something fun. That's why MEL Science makes their products practical. Kids still learn the theory, but they have a blast doing it.
Kids these days are using technology to find out new things because they want to not because they have to. Learning is something that's happening passively.
But What About the Crutch Argument?
The argument that technology is acting as a crutch is a common one, particularly since millennials have become a dirty word. It works like this. The majority of people who believe technology is making people dumber say that kids are lazy because they can just look up the answer and they don't have to absorb it.
To an extent, this is true, but by looking something up you have no choice but to absorb it. Furthermore, there are other ways of taking in information. The idea that you can just go to Wikipedia is the most basic form of education in technology. There are so many other ways to take in new information, such as through gaming and new technologies, like virtual reality.
New Technology is Making Learning Fun
No matter how much you try to drill into your kids that education is important, they are still just kids. They are not going to do something that they don't enjoy. That's why it's so difficult to actually get them to learn a subject they have no interest in. And that's why some people are better at some things than others.
But new technology is filling in these knowledge gaps through making learning fun. A lot of people have learned through gaming. They have used their practical knowledge, and the best part is they didn't even see it as learning. They saw it as just having fun.
And virtual reality is expected to take that to a whole new level. MEL Science believes there will still be room for practical objects in the real world, but they will be utilizing even more advanced technology. That's why their chemistry sets continue to be updated to match up with the real world.
So is Technology Making Kids Smarter?
There's no doubt that kids are getting smarter than ever before. Exam results are constantly climbing around the world, and a greater proportion of people possess higher education qualifications than ever before. That alone should demonstrate how the world is growing smarter.
As with all young people, it's about engagement. The only way they're going to keep getting smarter is through engagement. MEL Science has seen a huge amount of uptake in their chemistry sets because everything is about grabbing the attentions of young people and keeping them engaged.
What do you think technology has done in regards to making people smarter?
This is the question that I was asked this week on BBC Radio. A recent study from researchers at Columbia University found that people are less likely to remember what they read online, but they could remember where they read it.
These questions were raised: Is this a good thing? Are computers making us lazy? Are we reluctant to think for ourselves when you can Google it?
My own research sheds light on these issues. In a study of several hundred young people, I looked at the way technology was impacted the way they remember and process information. We first identified whether people were active or passive users of digital technology by using a questionnaire that reflected their interactions with different internet forms, including Facebook and Twitter. The average number of hours a person spent consumed with these activities was the basis of their classification. The answer was clear: digital technology does change the way your brain works.
But it is not a bad thing. Active technology users were better at processing information in parallel. They could quickly adjust to a change in an information stream and picked up on what they needed to do. In contrast, passive technology users processed information successively and found it easier to focus on a single target at a time.
In a modern workplace where multitasking is standard, technology can give us an edge. The old school way of remembering facts and information is not necessary. With Google at our fingertips, we don't need to.
But what we do need to know is know how to use this information. And for that, we need Working Memory-your 'active' memory, the memory that you use to work with information. Working Memory is the skill needed to draw connections between information, to quickly shift from one task to another, and to calmly manage multiple streams of information.
So is technology making our brains lazy? No, I would suggest that it is making us more efficient. Instead of having to fill up our mental 'space' with lots of information, this space is now freed up so focus on other things. Like how to best succeed in the workplace with creative and efficient ideas using what you know!
Reference: Alloway TP & Alloway RG. Attentional control and engagement with digital technology, 2011, Nature Precedings.