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Effect of Technology: Are We Seeing More and Thinking Less?

An article in Medical News Today asks “Is Technology Producing A Decline In Critical Thinking And Analysis?”

Much of today’s learning and research is relies on computer based search on the internet and multi-media presentations. A lot of information is made available very quickly, and often there is too much to process mentally to find the really relevant stuff. A lot of problem-solving skills that were learnt in schools and colleges in the past were based on thinking through the problem to be solved, mulling it over, playing with potential solutions in the mind, discussing with others,  and trying it out with a pencil and paper, or may be in the lab. Contrast that with today’s fast-paced “Googling” approach. You can find at least a dozen relevant references in response to almost any query.

In his book “Boys Adrift” Dr. Leonard Sax comments on the effect of video games on young  kids. He says that very quickly kids get used to the fantasy that they can control everything with a joystick. And if something goes wrong, you just need to reset your game. This is far removed from the realities of life where we cannot control everything we wish to, and you cannot “reset” your way out of a bad decision.

Like I wrote in an earlier post, listening to a story encourages kids to picture the story in their own minds. Watching movie or a show on TV takes away the challenge of using your imagination to visualize. If you ever wondered why you seem to remember what you read in a novel much better than what you saw in the movie, this is probably the reason.

Finding quick answers to problems we are working on does not make us flex our mental muscles. It’s when your brain does the work to figure out a solution that it learns how to solve the same or a similar problem the next time. And “Googling” does to your brain what fast food does to your body.

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