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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why The Internet Is Making Us Stupid

An experiment at UCLA showed that spending one hour per day on the web alters our neural pathways. Another Canadian study asked 70 people to read a short story on a computer screen. Some read traditional text, while others read  a version containing  hyperlinks. Only 10%  of those who read  the traditional text  reported any difficulty  following the story versus 75% who read the hyperlinked version. Those who read the traditional text did so faster.

Simply ignoring online distractions does not work. That's because our brains must make a split second decision not to be distracted  which breaks our concentration.  For  instance, reading books  is often considered  a  passive activity when compared to web surfing.  But we think more deeply  when  we read a printed page compared to an Internet page. The quiet space afforded by the printed page lets us mull over what we read. That quiet space does not exist online, so we're less likely to formed reasoned conclusions  about the  validity of what we  read.

If we want to increase our concentration and comprehension when we read e-books or text online, we should close our e-mail programs, our facebook page, and other competing info feeds on our screen.

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