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!