Smart technology doesn’t make us dumber: studying


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There are many negatives associated with smart technology – tech neck, text messaging and driving, blue light beams – but there are also positive things: The digital age doesn’t make us stupid, says Anthony Chemero, social and behavioral expert at the University of Cincinnati.

“Despite the headlines, there is no scientific evidence that smartphones and digital technologies harm our biological cognitive abilities,” says the UC professor of philosophy and psychology, who recently co-authored an article in Nature Human Behavior that noted this.

In the paper, Chemero and colleagues at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management discuss how the digital age is evolving and how intelligent technology complements thinking, helping us outperform.

“Instead, smartphones and digital technologies seem to be changing the way we use our biological cognitive abilities,” says Chemero, adding, “these changes are actually cognitively beneficial.”

For example, he says, your smartphone knows the way to the ballpark so you don’t have to dig up a map or ask for directions, which is what releases the brain energy to think about something else. The same applies in the professional environment: “We don’t solve complex mathematical problems with pen and paper or remember phone numbers in 2021.”

Computers, tablets and smartphones, he says, act as aids that serve as tools that can easily remember, calculate and store and present information when needed.

In addition, intelligent technology improves decision-making skills that we would find difficult to achieve on our own, says the study’s lead author, Lorenzo Cecutti, a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Toronto. Using GPS technology on our phones can not only help us get there, but also allow us to choose a route based on traffic conditions. “That would be a challenging task when driving around a new city.”

Adds Chemero, “If you put all of this technology together with a bare human brain, you get something that is smarter … and the result is that, complemented by our technology, we are actually able to do much more complex tasks solve than we could with our unsupplemented biological capabilities. “

While smart technologies can have other consequences, “it’s none of the things that make us stupid,” says Chemero.

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More information:
Lorenzo Cecutti et al., Technology Can Alter cognition without necessarily harming it, Nature Human Behavior (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41562-021-01162-0 Provided by the University of Cincinnati

Quote: Smart Technology Doesn’t Make Us Dumber: Study (2021, July 2), accessed July 23, 2021 from

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