Friday, March 12, 2010

Is the Internet Making You Stupid?

Image and video hosting by TinyPicI read an interesting article the other day that asked the question of whether or not the internet is making us stupid. At first I thought, no and that the internet would have to be making us smarter. I mean look at all of the information we can find out now! But then I thought about it a little longer, and realized how much the internet has affected me.

I never will forget the day that we got the internet at our house. I was in the sixth grade (11 years ago). Of course, back then, everyone had dial up. You could take a shower, clean the house, go to the grocery store, and wash your car all in the amount of time it took to connect to the internet. Nevertheless, the internet had me from "You've Got Mail!". I was instantly addicted. It was better than television! I could connect to so many things that I otherwise would not have had access to(and I'm not talking about porn). I think that it's safe to say that I became an internet addict from the very first day I ever signed on.

Before the internet days, I was a wonderful speller, and I read a lot of books. I had a pretty descent attention span, and didn't get distracted too easily. Over the years, it seems that my intellect has somewhat disintegrated. Now, I'm not saying that I'm stupid...I'm just saying that if it weren't for spell check on my computer, I would definitely come across as stupid. When I am on the internet, I lack the ability to think for myself. Why? Because there is a Google search bar in the top right hand corner of my screen that I can type anything, anything at all into...and come up with an answer.

Now, do I think that the internet is making me, and the rest of the world stupid?

I tend to think that the internet isn't making people stupid, it's just making people lazy. If I were to separate myself from a computer, and the internet for a week...I would probably regain the capabilities (or die from withdrawals) that I used to have before the internet came along. My attention span would probably expand back to where it used to be. I would probably be able to spell again, and the ability to think things out would return as well. I think that with the internet giving us the ability to have the entire world at our finger tips, we have lost the need to go to the library and read Encyclopedias, or look words up in the dictionary. Most of our writing is done on computers now, and most computers have spell check; why do we need to know how to spell anymore? We can find out the answers to anything, connect to anyone, and find out what has happened or is happening all over the world, with just one click of the mouse.

I do, however, wonder how this will affect our children? They won't know what the world was like before internet, and they'll probably enter school with a course in computers in Kindergarten. Everything that they will be taught to do, will most likely be done on the internet. Will our children be able to think for themselves, or will they be lazy like the rest of us are getting?

It's an interesting thought, and something that maybe we should take action against. I don't want Bree growing up never having stepped foot into a library. I don't want Bree to have to rely on the little red squiggly line on the computer to help her spell. I want her to be able to think for herself. I want her to know how to use an Encyclopedia, and a Dictionary...and I'm not talking about the ones that can be found on the computer or internet. I think that it is important to instill these capabilities into our kids, because if we don' one else will.

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singedwingangel said...

Ahh but even spell check screws up so it is not a fail safe.. and I just misspell so poorly when typing.. because my fingers go faster then my brain

Sam said...

Yikes, this might be a long comment, be warned. :p

First, I couldn't agree more, and I really enjoyed this post. I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. I don't think the internet makes people stupid, per se, but I do agree that it's tempting glow allows us to pass up the opportunities to further our intelligence.. So, I don't think it makes us "dumb" but it definitely gets in the way of us becoming smarter... If that makes sense.

My problem was never spelling, but vocabulary. When I was little, I LOVED to read, and for my age had a very advanced vocab. I've been noticing over the past year or so that, while I may have been "advanced" then, it was certainly catching up with me now, and I always kind of wondered why that was. Whether or not I just no longer had the brain power, or that I wasted the opportunity to be a really smart person because my interests changed as I grew up.

This is going to sound incredibly sad, but I am in fact addicted to the internet/technology. I think everyone in this day and age is to an extent. We're so used to the constant stimulation that, say for example, when the power goes out, we (or at least I) go crazy with boredom. I can't for the life of me think of anything that will entertain me as much as my favorite episode of a show, or sitting on Blogger or Facebook. And while I suppose it's accepted as "normal" today, I don't like that. I've really got to focus more on putting the important things (e.g. homework, cleaning my room, etc) first and playtime second. Great post, it totally put things in perspective!

Oh, and as far as the kids are concerned, I wouldn't be too worried. I think it's all relative. I mean, in our grandparents' day, they didn't have anything that we do now, and I'm sure they wondered the same thing about their kids when the TV came out. Also, I think the fact that almost everyone has access to it nowadays, it might even make the internet safer. I remember when I was about 13, the internet wasn't really "new" anymore, but it was still a scarier place to be, because you were constantly hearing about some girl being abducted or murdered because she went and met her 13-year-old online BFF who was really 58 with two teeth left. Now though, I think kids are learning internet safety much earlier, and since everyone is online, it's almost like an entire new world has been created. Everyone is on Twitter, even news shows, and so kids on Twitter, without even knowing it, are subjected to news headlines and updates. More information -- ANY information is available at our fingertips, and I like to think that it will only help, not hurt the kids. But only time will tell I suppose. I know for sure that I'll still be encouraging spending time with a good book when I have kids, even if technology has made that a chore for me.

Sheesh.. told you it would be long, haha. And, sorry if that last paragraph makes no sense.. I didn't sleep much, haha!

Becky said...

I think we will be okay :) This is the country we are living in. It is not this way in many many other countries. The whole world is NOT like this. (which is a comfort to me) There are pros AND cons. To live in this country it would hurt her more in these time NOT to know how to use the internet. She will still learn the rest. She will be okay.
Just the other day my 8 year old and I looked up definitions for homework in a {{gasp}} dictionary. It was fun for him.

KimJohnson said...

It definitely gives us the opportunity. I'm more concerned with video games though! Seriously when my boys are at their dad's house all they do is play Wii. It gives them shit attitudes and zero exercise. I've banned all video games from my house.

Joe Cap said...

I have to say I agree with you, Samantha. You nailed it. The internet has made me is too easy to look stuff up.

Brandy said...

it's definitely a new age. I think it's something we will embrace and adapt too. I mean - think about before tv - we have to find the balance with that too. I wonder about Grayson nad computers in school.

Katherine said...

I became a horrible speller, too, and I'm an English teacher!

I think it's a give and take kind of thing. Will Ethan get to play on the computer? Of course, its a skill he's going to need in this world. Will it be limited. Of course. And reading is a priority in my house. I read about 1 to 2 books a week. And that's on top of everything else. The library is my friend for my addictive reading habit!

I hope to pass that trait on. Video games? He'll have that, too, I'm sure. But again, limits. And luckily, there are tools that allow such limits to be placed on certain things.

Oh, BTW, I didn't even know the internet existed until I was 17!

Ian said...

Ok no more Sams or Samantha's...wowzer. j/k

Hell yeah the internet is making people deaf dumb blind and retarded. Who needs to go to an actual library anymore?

That and people are quoting stuff from the wiki as if it's fact? Not all of it is folks...

great post!

MrsM said...

I LOVE (and collect) old/classic/rare books, but I still maintain that the internet can be a great tool-it's all in how you use it. It can be said that ANY modern convenience makes us lazy, so why bother having a vacuum cleaner/dish washer/telephone/car when instead you could beat rugs/hand wash/write a letter/walk?

Just because something takes longer doesn't mean it's better.

If you use the internet to Facebook/MySpace/AOL Chat all day then yes, it would be easy to turn into a spell check-dependent monkey whose brain functions solely on music uploads and Wiki pages. I have seen those people online (and don't worry, you're not one).

There are, however, also a million resources online that are invaluable-I would never be able to read the British Medical Journal (which I do on a regular basis) if it were not for the internet. I would never be able to personally find the large groups of international and historical data I can get from one click of a mouse. Not to mention-where would I get my news? From the TV? Please. And newspapers? No way. They've been around way too long--there are too many regulations on them and their viewpoint has already been bought and paid for.

You can use the internet to move ahead (BTW, did you know you CAN turn OFF your spell checker?), or you can use the internet to veg out...but either way it's not the internet that deserves congratulations or blame. It is all in how the individual chooses to utilize it.

Julia said...

interesting!! i just looked up something on google the other day for my dad. he was playing scrabble with my mom and wondered if he spelled the word right. it took my less than 5 seconds to check.

so yes, we are lazy. we spend less time with our kids to just sneak a peak at emails or check twitter.

but then again, it's part of our culture, so it's kinda hard not to have it be a part of your life.

Salt said...

You made some extremely good points here. As I was reading I was thinking about how I didn't believe it was making us stupid so much as lazy, but then you hit the nail right on the head for me.

Also we have any amount of information that we want right at our fingertips now, but are we really absorbing any of it? Like I have a GPS in my car so that I won't get lost, but I find myself relying on it a little too much. At some point I forgot how to drive down the street. That scares me a little.

Ally said...

My spelling is so awful. I rely so much on spell check - I know that's not an internet thing, but still. As your friend singedwingangel said many times spell check trips up and I have to look the word up and thank gawd I did especially for cover letters, etc.

Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing

Kristy said...

I don't think it's making us stupid, but it is probably making us lazy. Whenever I need to know something, I head for the internet and hope I can believe the answer I find there.

Nathan said...

Good Point


Hmmmm... I don't quite think the internet is making us stupid....

Are there more productive things that I could have done, other than being on the internet? Yes.... But I think that the internet has also saved me tons of time.... I travel a lot for work, and I remember having to call a travel agent to schedule my plane and hotel reservations, car rentals.... Now it takes me less than 5 minutes to do all three.

I think the spell check is a blessing, but I', the type of person that tries to learn from my mistakes.... Whenever the spell check is used, I try to learn the correct spelling of the word.

The internet has opened my eyes to a plethora of new publications and types of music that I probably never would have stumbled upon them on the internet....

And the most important thing of all, I never would have met my wife if the internet was never invented.

So yes, the internet is a blessing and a curse, but it can be more of a blessing if there can be a balance between the internet and other factors....

I Think It's Interesting

Kato said...

I completely agree with you! People have become lazy, myself included.

I remember what it was like to have to actually search for something. You know, put some work into it. Kids these days wont know what that's like, so its great that you want Bree to know those things!