Your kids are not so smart after all


A prevailing assumption of the past several years holds that young internet users are very computer and search savvy, but  recent study of children and internet in the UK suggests otherwise.    ARS Technica Reports

The study of young searchers found they preferred visual over text information, liked to cut and paste, and tended to do simple searches.

My own observations of how kids use computers lead me to think this study is correctly characterizing use and also offers some profound insights into the future of computing – a future that is *less*, not more intellectually sophisticated in terms of how people interact with the internet and with each other.

Several forces are conspiring to make the average internet user “dumber” than in the past:

* Entertainment usually trumps education, and as entertainment value of online environments becomes increasingly compelling kids (and adults) will increasingly spend time “playing” rather than “learning”.   

* Short attention spans now rule everywhere, and this trend is unlikely to see any reversal.    We are replacing contemplation and reflection about experiences with … more experiences.

* Human nature.   We are not designed for personal enlightenment and long term planning – rather for short term gain and satisfaction which until very recently was a better survival strategy.

So, strap in and watch out, because things are going to get a lot …. dumber!

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About JoeDuck

Internet Travel Guy, Father of 2, small town Oregon life. BS Botany from UW Madison Wisconsin, MS Social Sciences from Southern Oregon. Top interests outside of my family's well being are: Internet Technology, Online Travel, Globalization, China, Table Tennis, Real Estate, The Singularity.
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4 Responses to Your kids are not so smart after all

  1. Fools Gold says:

    I wonder if the ultimate in this is not ‘twitter’ing? Has anyone logged someones ‘twits’ and analyzed what percentage of them are informative, contemplative, reflective, analytical, or simple drivel?

    Is there a difference between a female viewpoint of the internet “everyone is here and we are all communicating” and a male viewpoint of “I want to know ‘x'”?

  2. horatiox says:

    “… the future of computing – a future that is *less*, not more intellectually sophisticated in terms of how people interact with the internet and with each other.”

    Unfortunately, you may be correct. Much blog-speak tends to a lowest-common denominator sort of bar-room discussion: that can be perceived on the current political slam-fests on DailyKOS or one of its many spin-offs. Or the Fray. In addition to the incessant yelling matches and the insta-pundits, there’s a great deal of imagery, ads, malware, flash, and of course the porno aspect.

    I don’t think Youtube helped matters too much: some spam-artistes take their latest embedding of a Monty python episode, for instance, to be some profoundly creative act.
    The Net needn’t be a sort of cyber-arcade; the research and archiving aspects of the Internet for example will remain important, hopefully.

  3. Joe Duck says:

    Fools Gold that would be an interesting study (Twitter content). I’m guessing about half drivel, half techno observations.

    Horatiox – I agree that the definition of “creative” has taken a lot of hits lately, and I think we’ve only just begun.

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