We can all agree on the fact that technology makes our lives easier. Some might say that it makes humans lazier. For example, we do not have to plan a route before we go to an unfamiliar location. We do not even need the skill of reading maps. Why bother, when your smartphone will tell you where to go.
But is technology beneficial to our brains? Does technology make us smarter?
The Benefits of Current Technology
Nowadays we use technology for almost everything we do. We use it to get from point A to B, to calculate the most basic equations, to select our drink from a smart coffee machine, to keep count of the steps we take through the day and so on.
So technology takes some of all that thinking we have to do out of our hands. And at the rate current technology is developing we will be able to use it for more and more (basic) tasks. You now even have a possibility to use a podcast to text converter, taking away basic transcribing tasks out of your hands.
One of the biggest benefits of technology is the easy access to knowledge. No matter what topic you want more info on, in most cases you can find the answers online and at any time you might need it.
Most of the time technology has great storage or memory, because of this we do not need to bother to memorise certain things. Which can be seen as a good thing, in the sense that it is easy. However, there might be a downside to this development as well.
How Our Brains Adapt
The downside? Through the use of technology for basic tasks, the brain alters. If we look at the current younger generation, that uses technology during the process of learning we see that they create different skills than older generations that used to gain knowledge mostly through the use of books.
Reading books require concentration and imagination and stimulate memory. You are training your brain to retain the information you are receiving. Working with current technologic tools improves reaction time, intentional ability and the skill to find out what is important in an overload of information. But memorising, critical thinking and contemplation are skills we seem to lose.
Where being able to retain information used to be important, it now is being able to find information in a short amount of time that counts.
New Skills Required
Digital natives, those who grew up with the extensive use of technology, perfectly know how to make use of current technology in a way that is beneficial for them and leads to progress. For digital immigrants, often older generations, it is not quite that easy. They need to learn the new skills that are needed to use technology, but also to gain and use knowledge when needed.
Whether technology makes us smarter or just plain stupid is an ongoing debate. It is a fact that current technology changes us – the way we function, perform tasks and think. It also changes the way we obtain and retain knowledge.
It might just be a matter of evolution. The brain adapts to the environment it needs to function in. And in the end, the answer to this question really depends on the definition of the term ‘smart’ you are using.
Written by: Vonoya Lewis