BLOG PAGE: A View from the Bridge
By Mr. Clayton
By Mr. Clayton
When I was growing up there were only 3 TV channels to watch, colour TVs were rare, and children’s programmes were only on 4pm-6pm each day and TV channels stopped broadcasting around midnight and didn’t come on air again until around 8am! Obviously there was no internet, PCs or smart phones. In fact we didn’t have a telephone until I was much older. However, as we watched a little TV the idea grew that because of the brevity of the shows and short segments of the programmes that children’s attention had been reduced. However over the years of study it emerged that there is no evidence that TV has affected children’s ability to pay attention. The key to the use of TV is to do with the content of the media, not the form. Nobody talks about TV having a bad effect anymore.
There has been a strange phenomenon which has been named the Flynn effect. This is the substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from around 1930 to the present day. Some have argued that the steady increase was related to TV and more recently social media. However this effect has started to halt in certain areas around the world. Is this because of the internet? Is it making us less smart? What are the arguments?
Columbia University has identified the Google effect. They discovered that students remember information better if they think that this information is not likely to be available on the internet. The study also showed that students are better able to remember where to find something on the internet rather than the remembering the information itself. The Google search engine is acting as an external memory. Some neuroscientists argue that the internet, social media and the like is rewiring our brains, and not in a good way!
The truth is that at the moment we don’t know whether the internet is having a deleterious effect on our intelligence. Steven Pinker has argued that we are now making better use of our brains by using Google to store and access unnecessary information. We certainly know more than we did in the past, though there is an interesting argument that the Victorians were cleverer than us-debatable! Two leading neurologists state that Google, PowerPoint or the internet is not destroying or changing our brains. They conclude, ‘We will no more lose our ability to pay attention than we will lose our ability to listen, see or speak.’
There are reasons to be careful with the amount of screen time that children have. It seems that studies have shown that excessive media can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders and obesity. Two hours of screen time a day seems to be the optimum time recommended.
In conclusion the argument continues to rumble on. It seems intuitive that the internet is making us less intelligent, but there is no solid evidence to support this. At the moment it appears to be the case that the internet is making us more intelligent. What on earth did we do in 1976 to make us smarter? Watched the three channels and read some books!