Thursday, January 27, 2011

Does the internet make us dumber or smarter?

     Well, on our Faculty of Ed Ning, the question was posed; Is the internet making us smarter or dumber?  Followed up by two articles, each offering opposing views... here are the links:
Does the Internet Make You Dumber? by N. Carr
Does the Internet Make You Smarter? by C. Shirky
After reading both, I've come up with the following response:

     Wow... well, I "read" both articles to see what points were brought forth.  Does the internet make you dumber? brought forth several good points and had a handful of experiments/tests that were completed to reinforce the point.  The, Does the internet make you smarter? article was more full of oppinionated points.  And honestly, I got pretty confused/bored by this article and did a really half-a**ed job completing it.

     I can't really say that I agree with either.  I don't think people are any smarter or dumber due to the internet.  Sure the internet has brought an entire world of knowledge into our homes, but do people know how to use it correctly?  Do they know how to determine what is the truth and what is some bored individual throwing a bunch of gibberish together?  Sure the internet has brought forth a mountain of distractions, but wasn't the same said of TV when it was invented?

     People always had to determine how much information came out of a text book is actually true (Haeckel's embryos, Thomsons "plum pudding" molecular model, etc.).  People are always going to have distractions around (radio, TV, etc.). The bottom line is it comes down to the individual.  You can't blame the internet for making them dumb.  You can't thank the internet for making them a genius.   You made yourself the way you are.

                            (Then there's the whole genetics vs. upbringing argument I just won't get into)


  1. Good point about Carr's use of experiments and data - unfortunately he did not provide references and documentation.

  2. I totally agree with your point about other distractions in the home. If there wasn't internet in the home, the t.v. or the radio would definitely be on, presenting the same challenge that internet has regarding distractibility.
    I also like your point about many people not knowing how to research on the internet correctly. Many people forget the fact that ANYONE can create a website about ANYTHING, making a lot of information irrelevant. Students need to be taught how to search properly. It make not make them "smarter", but it will help them distinguish between good and bad information.

  3. I believe that people do often look for distractions. Most of us aren't meant to pay attention to a book for long periods of time and I can see how we (as humans) become addicted to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other sites such as Google. Most people like learning, and with the internet and sites such as Google, we really do have the world at our fingertips.

    I feel like technology and the internet is just going to become a larger and larger part of our world as educators and we must start to seriously consider how we are going to approach internet usage with our students. Students definitely need to be taught (and likely reminded) how to search properly, and practice appropriate etiquette when leaving a digital footprint.