Popular Posts

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why Kids May Be Getting Dumber By The Minute

In the past decade, the number of college grads who can interpret a food label has fallen from 40 percent to 30 percent. And not too long ago, a high school teacher out west handed out an assignment that required students to use a ruler. But she discovered not a single one of them knew how. Kids today seem way dumber than they used to be. That's because they spend all their time playing computer games and hanging out with one another on Myspace and Facebook.

They don't know the most basic stuff like who fought whom in World War II, how many pints are in a quart, and in some cases, even the months or the days of the week. The average kid spends nearly 9 hours  a day in front of computers, TV and  iPhones screens. Add in 8 hours of sleep and 7 hours in school, that just leaves 1/2 hour when their senses are not under siege while they take a shower. Technology was supposed to set us free, but it seems to be binding our youth to mundane, time-consuming tasks. Each day, kids send and receive more than 4,000 text messages each month or about 100 a day. Plus they have an average of 450 friends on Facebook.

Reading is highly unnatural in that it requires us to filter out distractions and focus on a  single task. But a study done at Stamford last year revealed that heavy users of multimedia have a very hard time filtering out distracting information. When the phone rings, their behavior is driven by that distraction. In fact, kids today are assailed by such a constant stream of input that they can't even remember what they see.

Here are some examples of how technology is effecting our brains.  Heavy computer users take longer than light users in moving between different tasks and have trouble tuning out irrelevant information. Computer  gaming can become literally addictive. Under the stress of playing, a part of the brain produces more endorphins, leading to euphoria. If a kid stops playing, the endorphin level drops and he has to play again.
Computer gaming over time also increases the level of stress, and releases stress hormones.

When kids multitask, their brains become wired for instant gratification. And that makes their attention span shorter. If you ask a kid a question, they get restless. That's because they're used to getting everything at a click. That's why they don't have conversations anymore. If they have something important to say, they text it.

On a final note, with Facebook, their cell phones and laptops,  kids don't ever have to be alone but they're always alone.  Research has shown that the more  they use the internet to connect, the more vulnerable they are to depression. Plus the incidence of depression has doubled among teens in the last decade. In addition, a quarter of all Americans report not having even one person they can confide in. More than half have no close friends outside their immediate family.         

No comments: