Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google Making us Stupid,” interests me because it reshapes my thinking of the internet’s influence on my brain’s capabilities and functions. It reminded me of the question of the strengths and weaknesses of a child’s brain versus an adult’s. I found a video by Yale professor, Paul Bloom, who summarizes some of these strengths and weaknesses. The video can be found here:
In this piece he says children may have a superior ability to learn new languages, social and mobile skills. He lends the explanation that social expectations and pressure may influence this conclusion, because we do not expect that an adult should pick up a new language once they have learned their native tongue. By contrast, we expect that a child will learn his or her native language. As an adult, we have already had these expedited-learning experiences, and we are not expected to repeat them.
Sure, as adults we are not motivated to re-learn languages or social skills. But, when we enter the Internet into this equation, I become worried. How much brain capacity is unused simply because the Internet eliminates its necessity? We do not find the need to commit information to memory because we can access it whenever we need it. We do not need to process equations or algorithms because machines do this for us. If necessity is linked to effective learning, then us adults may have a problem. The web has done away with the need to do things ourselves.
However, the web is glorious for the same reasons that I mentioned. While we may not learn as quickly as the occasion of a child learning a language, we can requisition billions of pieces of information in milliseconds. And then, we can comprehend it, and apply it. The Internet makes this all possible, and at staggering expediency. So, while in some ways the ease of surfing the web makes our brains seem unused and inferior to a child’s, in others I think we are able to be smarter than ever before.