Computers and our Brain
Have you ever calculated the amount of time you’ve spent on technological mediums such as the internet, IPod, or your phone? Unknowingly, most of our everyday activities involve using some sort of technology; we use google to gather information for a research paper, or we use our phone to find a location when we are driving. Our society has been rapidly increasing the invention and use of technology, however, has our drive to “improve” our lifestyle hurting us more than helping us? In the articles: “Is Google Making us Stupid?” written by Nicholas Carr, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction” by Matt Richtel, “Get Smarter” by Jamais Casio, and “Research Shows that Internet is Rewiring our Brains” by Gary Small and Judy Lin, argue that technology, in many ways, has affected the way we learn and retain information. Although the use of computers is a powerful medium for information, our frequent use affects our long term retention, focus, analytical and critical thinking; parents and teachers need to regulate the time spent on computers and emphasize the importance of effective and productive learning. In some schools, computer games are used as a learning tool to engage underdeveloped minds. The software is intended to keep the student mentally active when learning new information. However, when students use gaming techniques to learn new material, the mind is conditioned to learn by appealing and entertaining itself. In Matt Richtel’s article “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” he states, “brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing.” The underlying problem Richtel proposes in this quote is the differences in how the mind quickly jumps from one stimulus to the next when the material is taught using rewards and penalties rather than the basic read and annotation. Also, when students search the web, their minds are conditioned to find answers fast, “my mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles” (Carr). The internet is designed to allow us to navigate through information at our fingertips, and when something is dissatisfactory, we quickly google or search for the next subject. For example, in school, if students are assigned to read and write a response, most students know about the shortcuts that are available on the internet, therefore instead of trying to think critically, our conditioned mind automatically result to finding quick answers. “Scientists describe these skills as our ‘fluid intelligence’- the ability to find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems” (Casio). Parents should keep a time management chart that reveals how much time their child uses the computer, either for school or not, and set a time where they must use other traditional paperback reading to offset their conditioned minds.
Students are capable of learning a variety of topics, however, when we focus on one topic, it limits the amount of information needed to develop multiple skills. For example, Richtel explains how a student spent countless hours on digital media; “last semester, his grade point average was 2.3 after a D-plus in English and an F in Algebra II. He got an A in film critique.” The student was successful in technology based material but had troubles focusing on analytical genres. “The worry is we’re raising a generation of kids in front of screens whose brains are going to be wired differently” (Richtel). Hours spent on the computer affect the way we are able to think critically. In the article, “Is Google Making us Stupid,” Nicholas Carr says, “when we read online, we tend to become ‘mere decoders of information.’ Our ability to interpret text, to make the rich mental connections that form when we read deeply and without distraction, remains largely disengaged.” Parents should not forget that bed time stories are important in teaching how to interpret