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Is Technology Making People Dumber or Smarter?

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ver time, as technology advances to automate how we work, what we do in our spare time and how we do day-to-day activities, many believe it has led people to use their minds less and their cellphones more. However, new research shows the benefits of technological advancement that go beyond the obvious notion that “technology makes our lives easier.”

There is no doubt that there are many things that we don’t have to think about today thanks to technology. Nobody really walks around with a map and a compass as they navigate new cities and countries. Calculators have replaced pen and paper and have increased the time we can solve real world problems or simple equations. Social media took people away from using telephones or mail to connect with friends and family. 

Studies have also addressed other benefits like how online tools and video games can improve cognitive functioning, reduce anxiety, increase rest and more. However, with these benefits came the dependency on technology that can become detrimental to one’s health. According to a 2020 clinical neuroscience study published on the consequences of digital technology on brain health, frequent use of digital technology increases the likelihood of ADHD, encourages addictive behaviours and can interfere with sleep, brain development, emotional and social intelligence. 

In July 2021, however, new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC) argued that “there is no clear evidence for detrimental lasting effects of digital technology on cognitive abilities.” But researchers suggest that digital technology may change predominant ways of cognition. 

“Despite the headlines, there is no scientific evidence that shows that smartphones and digital technology harm our biological cognitive abilities,” says UC professor and research co-author Anthony Chemero.

Chemero says that while technology helps us get to places, solve problems and find solutions, it allows us to think of other things that technology may not be up to speed with yet. Without the aid of technology, we would still be trying to solve the problems our machines and systems can solve in seconds, which will give us less to no time to think of other more complex problems and solutions that can further improve lives and society, in general. 

Chemero reassures that while there are consequences to smart technology, making people stupid is not one of those consequences. 

Entrepreneurs, website and mobile app developers are constantly faced with the task to find solutions to complex problems or make ways of doing things easier. Because regardless of how far we’ve come, there are countless opportunities to improve how we live and move forward.

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