The impact of technology on our cognitive abilities is a highly debated topic nowadays. The presence of technology in our lives is being felt stronger each day, and it’s undeniable that our lives and the way we do things are being radically changed by it at a fast pace. The question whether technology is making us smarter or dumber is one we will be pondering upon in the times to come. Education or skills which one is better? –both of those are subjects that keep us preoccupied.
They say digitalization has brought a new paradigm. Its magnitude is proportional to the birth of agriculture, determining the course of human civilization. Imagine living without the internet for one day! While that wouldn’t have seemed like a big deal, say, 15 years ago, today we feel naked if we forget our smartphone at our smart home when leaving for an hour. Technology is everywhere in our lives: making your home smart has already become part of the way we live, and we are benefiting from technology anywhere we go. So…is technology making us smarter or dumber?
While some people are perfectly happy with the direction things are going, for other, more cautious types, the increased technology usage poses the question: is technology making us smarter or dumber? While it has revolutionized how we access information and communicate with one another, many recognize that technology usage also has its downsides. Some argue that there’s no connection to intelligence whatsoever. But there is also growing concern about how technology making everything easier will affect our cognitive abilities. Both sides have valid arguments, but the answer to whether technology is making us smarter or dumber is not clear-cut. In this article, we are going to examine both sides, so stick around until the end to get the complete picture!
- The main concerns
- Access vs. excess
- Technology is a tool
- The bright side: 5 ways technology makes us smarter
- The potential downside of inadequate technology usage
- What to do to reduce the negative effects of technology usage?
The main concerns
It’s quite natural to be cautious with new things that make significant changes to the way we live and experience things. This approach is instinctual; it’s hard-wired into our brains to protect us from harm. And although we are not very good at predicting potential dangers that can happen in the future, we can’t help thinking about them. The impact of technology on our brain development and functioning is not a subject to be neglected. So, is technology making us smarter or dumber? It’s natural that the question arises. The problems start when things fall out of balance, and a healthy critical behavior turns into paranoia. We’ve seen this happening so many times. The goal, as always, is to maintain a position of neutral observation instead of falling into the traps of unnecessary worry or excessive enthusiasm. How and why is technology making us smarter or dumber – depends on a large variety of factors.
Access vs. excess
On the one hand, technology provides us with unprecedented access to information. The ability to communicate with people from the other side of the world has become a commodity. This has made us more knowledgeable in some respects. It has allowed us to be more connected and informed than ever before. So, according to most opinions, tendencies show that technology is making us smarter.
On the other hand, there is a growing concern that excessive technology use is leading to a decline. The areas affected most are: critical thinking skills, attention spans, physical well-being, sleep, and real-life communication abilities. Many argue that technology is making us dumber by providing us with quick answers to everything and reducing the need for deep thinking and problem-solving on our own.
The question Is technology making us smarter or dumber? – might remain unanswered as of yet, but it will definitely make us think about how we take action in the future.
Technology is a tool
There are downsides to using technology, but we can’t say that technology is making us dumber. A smartwatch will not make us sleep more, for example, but we can get a record of our habits. Mindful and intentional changes can then be implemented based on the collected data. Smart technology is not making us dumber – or smarter, as a matter of fact. But it’s definitely changing the way we think. How exactly is technology making us smarter or dumber remains to be seen in the future. When digitalization has already been around for a sufficient amount of time, there will be enough data for studies to be conducted.
This change is going to be felt more and more as technology continues to reshape the world of work and entertainment. And everything, in fact. In the optimistic version, digitalization and automation will bring everyone a better quality of life. Automated production lines will substitute monotonous human labor, freeing up the workforce to occupy more meaningful jobs. Advancements toward achieving free energy through fusion technology are starting to look promising. In this respect, we could say that technology is making us smarter collectively.
Pessimists, on the other hand, fear that technology is making us dumber. And even worse: there are heated conversations about how artificial intelligence and automatization will push people into unemployment. The debates revolve around one core question. Who will become useless and who gets to keep their jobs in the future?
There’s no real answer to the question of technology making us smarter or dumber. One thing’s for sure, though: technology is providing the world with priceless tools. The advancements in the field of healthcare have already saved millions of lives. Surgeries performed by robots will exclude even the possibility of human error, making complex, life-saving interventions safer and more successful. The mRNA technology used for covid vaccines now treats cancer, and the list of breakthroughs could go on forever.
The question, in fact, goes beyond how technology is making us smarter or dumber. Whether we will benefit from using it or go extinct because of it will be decided by how we choose to use it. It is up to each of us to use technology in a way that enhances our cognitive abilities rather than making them devolve. Technology is a tool – it is not meant to make us wiser.
The bright side: 5 ways technology makes us smarter
Whether technology is making us smarter or dumber – remains to be seen. But we can state with confidence that there are observable benefits coming from it. And a few of those are:
Technology gives us increased access to information. It provides us with immediate access to vast amounts of information on any topic imaginable. This has expanded our knowledge base and allowed us to learn about a vast amount of new things. Fast.
Technology has transformed our education by providing everyone with access to online resources, educational tools, and virtual learning environments. This has made education much more accessible, allowing people to learn about anything and do it at their own pace.
Better communication and work flexibility
Real-time communication made possible worldwide has improved collaboration and allowed for the sharing of ideas and information on a global scale. Technology has made work from home possible for many people, giving them greater flexibility in their work-life balance. This has allowed individuals to be more productive and efficient, as they are able to work in an environment that is most comfortable for them. It has also reduced commute times and costs, reducing stress and improving workers’ quality of life.
Additionally, remote work has made it possible for companies to hire employees from the global scene, allowing them to get in contact with the best individuals for their needs, regardless of location. In this regard, it’s easy to see how technology is making us smarter.
Increased efficiency and sustainability
Technology has made many aspects of our lives more efficient and convenient. From online shopping to telecommuting, technology has made it possible for us to get things done fast and easy. At the doorstep of the climate catastrophe, the world desperately needs solutions in every field. Solar roof technology and other advancements toward a more sustainable way of living all exist thanks to technology.
Technology has revolutionized healthcare by providing doctors and patients with access to electronic medical records, telemedicine, and other tools that have improved the accuracy and speed of diagnoses and treatments.
Technology has had an impact on our daily lives of such a magnitude we can’t yet measure. Many tasks became easier and much more convenient. For example, with the widespread use of smartphones, we now have immediate access to navigation tools, online shopping, and the ability to connect with others at any time. Technology has al so made it possible for us to automate many tasks, such as paying bills, freeing up time for other activities. Self-driving cars, Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain might sound alien, but those will definitely be shaping our future.
As a result, by making everyday tasks more manageable, technology has improved the quality of our lives. If making people’s lives better counts as smart – and it should count as something smart! – then we can say that slowly, technology is making us smarter.
The potential downside of inadequate technology usage
And now, the dark side: the dangers of misuse of technology. It’s a bit stressed to make an affirmation that technology is making us dumber, but there are apparent disadvantages coming from inadequate usage. Because misuse and overuse can decrease the quality of life, the following aspects could lead to the conclusion that technology is making us dumber.
Decreased attention spans
The constant overstimulation of technologies has led to a decrease in our ability to focus on tasks for an extended period of time. There have never been more people diagnosed with ADHD. Attention-deficiency-related mental conditions have been seeing peaking statistics. Concentrating on a single task is becoming increasingly difficult, with notifications and updates constantly distracting us. This leads to fragmented attention and an easily distracted mind. Existing like this for an extended period of time might confirm that exposure to too much technology is making us dumber over time.
Being too reliant on help
There is a digital dependence on technology for information, as many people become too reliant on technology for information, leading to a decrease in their ability to think critically and problem-solve. Rather than using their own minds for a solution, people have become accustomed to searching on the internet for information. That can reduce our abilities for creative thinking and affect our thinking, reducing our innovation skills.
A sedentary lifestyle
With the rise and sophistication of technology, many people are spending more time indoors in front of their screens. This can lead to less physical activity, decreasing overall fitness. Ultimately, this leads to health issues and affects our physical and mental well-being.
The excessive use of social media can cause dependence. This is not new today, as scientists have warned about those risks for a long time. A little bit of overuse, and you find yourself doom-scrolling yourself into sleep every night. It’s unsure whether the overuse of technology is making us dumber, but it is quite certain that excessive interaction is not doing us any good. The online space provides a comfortable and engaging bubble that’s hard to ignore. Technology addictions can be dangerous, causing all kinds of neurological and psychological problems like anxiety and depression.
Addiction can lead to a decrease in productivity and the neglect of important responsibilities in real life. It would be hasty to say that technology is making us dumber, but there definitely are negative effects of misuse that should be avoided.
Vulnerability to misinformation and scams
Technology has made it easier for scammers and purveyors of misinformation to spread their false messages to large audiences. Many people are vulnerable to scams and false information, as some may not have the critical thinking skills to distinguish between credible and fake sources. This can result in financial losses, harm to reputation, and many other negative experiences. Misinformation can have greater negative effects, too, leading to the spread of harmful beliefs and practices, like in the case of harmful sects and organizations.
Loss of real connection
The use of social media creates the illusion that we know what’s up with other people. But in fact, it’s just the illusion of knowing, which can’t replace authentic interactions. We are not walking brains, we need legitimate interaction, flesh and blood interactions to function properly.
What to do to reduce the negative effects of technology usage?
There’s always something you can do, it’s up to us whether we take steps to protect ourselves or not. The choice is up to each individual to decide if such steps are necessary. Remember that any kind of technology is a tool, and as one, it should be serving us and not make our lives harder. Sometimes, it’s hard to see when and where the other extreme begins. It’s easy to get hooked and forget about everything because technology keeps us entertained. How is technology making us smarter or dumber – it depends on our ability to say no.
Limit screen time
One of the most important things to implement to have a healthier relationship with technology is to limit the time we spend in front of screens. This helps to reduce the negative effects of technology usage and allows for keeping focus when it comes to more important tasks.
Have a workout routine
One of the overlooked health benefits of exercising is that it keeps you from leading a sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity is important for both physical and mental health. Including workouts in your weekly routines will benefit your body and mind.
Practice critical thinking
In a world of readily available information, it is important to flex those thinking muscles too. This will help you evaluate everything you come across, identify credible sources, and avoid falling victim to misinformation and scams. It might take some practice, but reducing the impact of technology on self-sufficient thinking can be done through conscious effort.
While it is true that technology has the potential to negatively impact our cognitive abilities and behavior, it is also important to see that the relationship between technology and intelligence is a very nuanced one. Is technology making us smarter or dumber? Intelligence boost or deterioration? We don’t know the exact answer to those burning questions. But, although the effects of technology on our lives and cognitive abilities are not uniform, those are definitely determined by how we use it.
The broad availability of technology has allowed us to easily access vast amounts of information. It has transformed the way in which we interact with the world. However, excessive use of technology has also been linked to decreased face-to-face communication skills and attention deficiencies. To curb the negative impacts, engaging with technology in a mindful and balanced manner is essential. Rather than setting no boundaries and relying on it too much, it is important to remember that technology has its flaws too.
Is technology making us smarter or dumber? That will be determined by the way in which we choose to use it. By using technology in a responsible and intentional manner, we can reap its benefits while avoiding the pitfalls of negative consequences. The relationship between technology and intelligence is one we cannot shape. It is up to us to use technology in a way that supports our cognitive abilities and contributes to making our world and the world at large a better place for everyone.
What is your opinion on the subject? Share it with us in the comment section!