The Diminishing Intellectual Capacity of Today's Society: Is the Internet Dumbing Us Down?

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The rise in popularity of the Internet to conduct daily activities is having a direct effect on the way people process and store information. It has never been easier for one to gain instant access to information whenever needed. This information comes from all over the world, and is accessible right at our fingertips. With the convenience of instant information access, the question needs to be posed as to how this is affecting our way of life and processes for storing information. The rising use of social media is also beginning to negatively affect people’s thought processes; we are losing the ability to think critically, perpetuating belief perseverance and confirmation bias. As people surf the web, they increasingly build a repertoire of beliefs based on the information they relate to. Often they will choose to believe false information simply because it follows the pattern of their preconceived notions. This leads us to a burning question: Is the Internet dumbing us down? As technology is developing at faster rates than ever, the Internet is proving to be quite the wonder. Never before has it been easier for a person to have instant access to nearly all of the information in the world, right at their fingertips. In 2012, the Internet had 2,405,518,376 users (Internet World Stats, 2012). But, with this convenience of instant information, one must stop to ask what the negative repercussions may be. Does all of this mindless surfing inadvertently lead to the loss of sustained attention and reflective thought (Tucker, 2010)? As noted by Clark (2010), cognitive psychologists are concerned over the development of behaviors directly tied to people's need to be in constant connection, including directing their attention toward their... ... middle of paper ... ... (2012) point to the positive factors that the Internet brings to us by offering social networking sites that contribute to the positive well-being of users. Carr (2011) points out the double-sided coin of neuroplasticity. As evidenced by Graham and Metaxas (2003), it is easy for Internet users to fall for inaccurate information, including advertising claims, government misinformation, and propaganda. It would be prudent for schools to focus on teaching students how to accurately conduct Internet searches and identify reliable information. At this time, there may not be an answer as to whether the Internet is dumbing us down. It is important, as with any good thing, to observe moderation. Works Cited Bargh, J. A., & McKenna, K. A. (2004). The internet and social life. Annual Review of Psychology, 55(1), 573-590. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.141922

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