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.


Comments

    I whip out my phone and open up my favourite e-reader app, where I have a whole collection of e-books stored. I get bored with those little games very quickly, and go back to my books. There is a vast collection of books transferred to digital, and a host of reader apps, which means there is not much excuse for not reading books :P

      Like a lot of people, I find smartphone screens to be too small for ebook reading.

    Simple solution, E-Book reader.

    Oh look I'm being moderated yet again... Don't try and tell me my down votes are the cause either.. this is just petty

    Last edited 28/06/13 11:21 am

      Hey mate, not sure what your issue with the auto-moderation is -- we generally approve comments within five minutes of them being posted. It's not like you have to wait hours for your comment to appear.

        we generally approve comments within five minutes of them being postedActually I find that comments generally go up instantly without Moderation. However, recently I find my comments are being moderated most of the time! Having recently had a fairly brusk conversation with Angus, I was told that my upvote/down vote rating was -10, which was nonsense, the only recent issue I had was with an article about grammar on an advertising blurb, which, correct me if I'm wrong, I think was one of yours. Otherwise I have had no more up or down than anyone else. So forgive me if I get a little peaved when I am constantly seeing "Comment awaiting Moderation" Which from experience takes a hell of a lot longer than five minutes.

        And I note, this comment is being Moderated too....??

        Last edited 28/06/13 1:05 pm

          We have no influence on the auto-moderation system. If you're on there, it has nothing to do with personal discrimination or bias.

            That's all well and good, but it doesn't explain why it's happening?

            And given it has happened to every comment I've made here this arvo, including this one, you'll have to excuse me if I'm less than happy with the "System"!! Clearly there's a trigger here..??

            Last edited 28/06/13 3:06 pm

          I usually enjoy reading your comments, but the last few have made me realise that there is a comment hide button. It's great!!

            Well I'm sorry if my comments to the staff here are upsetting you, but I don't see any other way to get the problem sorted and there is a problem. So go ahead and hide it, you clearly aren't part of the solution.

            Particularly when yet again I'm being moderated...!!

            Last edited 28/06/13 3:10 pm

              http://www.lifehacker.com.au/contact/

              I have seen you plaster your 'problem' over two articles and three days - with the reasoning explained to you multiple times. If you don't accept their reasoning, use the contact form to talk to them directly - or better still, just move on. As has been highlighted, comments are generally approved after five minutes.

                I don't want to get into a pissing contest here, but the explanations given were flakey at best and certainly of no help what so ever. Given they (the actual moderators) claim no control over this system, I can't see the contact form doing any good either. Afic they are simply fobbing the problem off! I seriously doubt that they are powerless here, they need to be able to edit and adjust the forum. Plus, when was the last time your comments were moderated? if you were, how long did it take? I am being moderated on almost every post, and very few take as little as five minutes. So I reiterate almost every post! That's awful friggin hard to ignore, and a little help is not too much to ask for!

                Once again, awaiting moderation?

                Last edited 28/06/13 6:31 pm

                  So, you think the contact form won't help but that bringing up the issue every time you comment will? I can see how a five minute lagtime is irritating but it's really not a big deal. It's certainly not something to start accusing the mods of being in a grand conspiracy to minorly inconvenience you.

                  Last edited 30/06/13 9:12 pm

                  @nonbeliever
                  The wait time is almost never five minutes in my experience. In my experience It regularly takes far longer and I have on occasion waited hours. That is not an exaggeration either!

                  And yet again Waiting for moderation....

                  Last edited 01/07/13 9:46 am

      were you wearing your tinfoil hat? if you had it off then they were reading your thoughts and the subject matter triggered the DISCUSSM system. i always wear mine on here.

        What is the DISCUSSM system? Cos I think it's broken, but only when I'm on it... :)

        Also note, this comment is being moderated .... ???

        Last edited 28/06/13 1:23 pm

          Don't worry, all my comments are moderated because I made a joke about feminazis destroying society

          It's true though, about the feminazis :P

    I recently got rid of my iPhone and switched to a dumb phone (Motorola F3) for exactly this reason. It's only been about 2 weeks. I do read a lot more (though mostly fiction).

    I don't know if I'm getting more intelligent, but I have certainly noticed that I am able to retain and recall information a LOT easier - to the point that sometimes I am surprised that I could have remembered a particular thing.

    I was hoping that I would be more aware of what is happening around me, but so far that hasn't really happened. It's still early days.

    Technology is all about how you use it

    I use my phone mainly to play documentaries, interviews, audiobooks or music that I don't have time to sit in one spot and play.
    I have noticed a drastic intellectual separation from my peers, to the point where I just can't talk to them anymore, we're just not on the same page and they haven't even opened the cover...

    I generally don't like looking at my phone unless to pick the next thing to play, I prefer to stick to audio things so I can still watch what's going on around me, like pretty girls.

    Before smartphones, I just listened to music and looked at pretty girls
    Now it's sad, because all the pretty girls just stare at their smartphones or play lame puzzle games.

    The worst feeling is getting into a train carriage and everyone's just bubbled off, staring into their own virtual world.
    Together Alone

    I do tend to think about how our lives may one day reflect something similar to Wall-E.

    That's ridiculous. Now let's go back.. to that place.. where our food and TV.. is

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