Are Gadgets Affecting Our Intelligence?

Portable gadgets have become a permanent fixture in our everyday lives. Whether you’re into social media, gaming, texting or videos, they’re a great way to stay occupied when you need to kill some time. But they could also be making our species gradually dumber.

Like many of you, I have a lengthy daily commute to work. Before I had a smartphone, I usually spent this time with a good book — my penchant was for biographies and history. It turned each train trip into a miniature lesson where I absorbed new facts about our planet and the people that inhabit it. It made me awesome during trivia nights and it left me feeling pretty sharp.

Nowadays, I usually just whip out my phone, which contains countless bite-sized pastimes that are tailor-made for travelling. It’s a lot more convenient than a book… but most of this stuff is pretty mindless. I’ve come to realise that while I’m still entertained, I’m no longer learning (unless you count working out new attacks in Street Fighter).

Sure, the choice is still there to ignore my smartphone and pick up a book. But the temptation is usually too hard to resist — the phone is right there in my pocket and it only takes a few seconds to fire up my favourite app. Plus, I firmly believe that the instant gratification of mobile games has shortened my attention span. In a few more years, I probably wont even want to read a book.

Kidding aside, the proliferation of portable technology makes me wonder what the next generation is going to be like. There are millions of kids out there who spend half their waking hours glued to a mobile display: and very little of what they’re doing has any intellectual merit.

The stinging irony is that smartphones have put more knowledge at our fingertips than we’ve ever had before: literally the entire history of Earth and every conceivable school of thought is now a finger-tap away. And yet most of us prefer to shoot disgruntled birds at super-deformed pigs.

I’d like to hear what the rest of you think. When it comes to entertainment, do you mainly use your phone for essentially mindless endeavors? How did you used to kill time before you got a smarthphone? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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