Staff Standoff: Are Humans Getting Smarter?

As a teenager living in the 21st century, it is clear to me that humans are getting smarter.

With advancements being made in the world of technology, we now have access to an abundance of information at our fingertips. While it is impossible to retain all of the information available to us, a study done by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North Carolina has proven that using the Internet actually makes us smarter.

According to the study, three out of four experts said that the use of the Internet cultivates human intelligence, and two out of three experts said that the use of the Internet has improved the reading, writing and knowledge levels of its users.

While technology has been more readily available to our generation than to previous ones, our accessibility to it does not make us dumber.

Using technology, such as a calculator, has made our lives easier, but it does not have an effect on our level of intelligence. According to a study that was published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, adults who used calculators to do arithmetic problems were just as successful in solving future problems as were adults who solved the arithmetic problems without a calculator. If technology such as this has been proven to have no effect on our intelligence, then why wouldn’t we choose to take advantage of its benefits?

Shows such as “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” only further prove the point that our generation is smarter than past generations. Adult contestants on the show are rarely smarter than their middle school opponents, which represents how a generation that grew up around technology is smarter than a generation that didn’t (no offense).

Additionally, smartphone apps are being used to foster education. Duolingo, an app that teaches its users foreign languages, has about 40 million users. An Effectiveness Study done on the app by the University of South Carolina concluded that the improvement in language skills that its users experienced was “statistically significant.”

With Lower School students at Hockaday already learning how to code computers, it is clear that our generation and future generations will be smarter than past ones. Sorry, mom and dad.

– Manisha Ratakonda

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There is no doubt that we live in a highly advanced society. The world we exist in today is filled with knowledge and experiences that were not even fathomable half a century ago. However, with each innovation, as our iPhones and gadgets grow closer to artificial intelligence, the average human seems to be getting dumber and dumber.

Due to the fact that the infinite world of intelligence, known as the internet, is available to us at our fingertips, the amount of information that we actually retain is minimal. Nobody fully absorbs knowledge from online news snippets or google searches—the ability to ‘look something up’ should not be confused with actual intelligence.

Furthermore, as technology makes everything in life easier and faster, we stop learning how to perform some very fundamental tasks. Simple mental math was never learned or practiced because the calculator was there to do it for us. Similarly, many people don’t know how to get from their homes to school or work without a GPS. Technology has made it possible for us to not use our brains, but still survive, even thrive, in this world.

If you have ever seen any of the thousands of YouTube interviews, where comedians ask random people off the street simple questions like, “who was the first President of the United States” or “what is a prime number,” and see them unable to answer, then you know what I’m talking about. These videos and other measures like the game show “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” help show that many adult Americans have jobs and live their lives without needing their basic middle school education.

In fact, the belief that education and school are essential to success, a sentiment that was ingrained in the American dream, is dwindling. People have begun to forego higher education to begin their careers early. The respect and love for education and knowledge is slowly seeping out of our culture.

While our generation has a lot to offer, including a great passion for social justice and speedy typing skills, there is no denying that the measurable academic intelligence we each possess is less than that of previous eras.

– Avita Anand

 

 

 

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