The Internet and websites such as Wikipedia are supposed to make humans more intelligent, but somehow the Internet and the medium through which the Internet is accessed are playing the exact opposite; they are helping humans become more retarded, faster. Researchers have found that human intelligence peaked several thousands years ago, and since then humans have been becoming more and more stupid, having dropped some 14 IQ points over the years. In the current times however, the rate at which humans are becoming retarded is increasing tremendously, thanks largely to technologies such as smartphones that have come with smartphone addiction among other ills.
Genetic Mutation, Technology, Human Right Movements, Presence of Fluoride in water, and Pesticides are some of the things that have been blamed for the decline of human intelligence over the past twelve thousand or so years. According to a research that was done by Dr Gerald Crabtree of Stanford University, Human Rights has helped level the playing field, where for humans, survival does not necessarily belong to the fittest, as the weak and the retards are also protected by the human right movements. Technology has contributed in the decline of human intelligence by ensuring that resources are not too limited hence less competition – allowing humans to thrive to the tune of over 7.6 billion in population.
Technology has not only helped contribute to the decline of human intelligence by ensuring abundance of resources, but has also done so by creating addiction (smartphone addiction topping the list), limiting attention span, reducing cognitive ability, and making available junk information that does nothing to improve an individual’s intelligence. In this article we shall discuss how technology and particularly smartphones is playing its role in accelerating human retardation. For the purposes of this article, intelligence is being considered as the ability of a human being to acquire, process, retain and preserve information useful for the survival of both the individual and the society at large without the need to use augmentation.
Smartphone addiction problems
Almost every human with a smartphone is suffering from smartphone addiction. To know whether or not you are addicted to your smartphone, just leave your smartphone at home, head to town, and see how much you will miss having your smartphone around. The problem worsens when you are one of those people who spend five or more hours a day on smartphones. As reported by Forbes, “About 48% of those who spent five or more hours a day on their phones — a lot of time by any measure — have thought about suicide or made plans for it”.
What the article by Forbes clearly demonstrates is the danger smartphone addiction has on mental health. An article by Aditi Johar Mirchandani of Thrive Global adds, “Anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, inability to focus, and zero peace of mind” are some of the ills of smartphone addiction.
Smartphone addiction depends largely on what a user does with the smartphone. Those who use their smartphones to play games and/or access social media top the list of those addicted to the gadgets. Using smartphones to either play games or access social media can either help improve an individual’s intelligence, or make them more retarded. For example, those who use social media to receive updates on important and relevant information from significant fields can be said as increasing their intelligence as long as they can acquire, digest, process, retain, and preserve the said information. Those who use social media to extract satisfaction on the number of likes, comments and shares on non-informative status updates can however be grouped amongst those whose intelligence does not improve by using smartphones. Ironically, it is the latter group that have been found to be suffering from smartphone addiction.
“The problem is that teens are spending more and more time, not talking on the phone like they were in decades past, but Instagram-ing and snapchat-ing. These are dangerous pastimes because they give the appearance of social interaction, but they couldn’t be further away from it” explains Alice G. Walton in the Forbes article.
The fact that smartphone addiction directly impairs mental health implies that the same plays a great role in contributing to human stupidity. A mentally unhealthy human who cannot focus on important issues cannot be said to be an intelligent person, even if mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders were overlooked.
Smartphones are against attention span
Several days ago I wrote this in Facebook, “I hate the rate at which I forget. I normally pick my phone or laptop to do a particular thing; maybe to write an article, or view a particular video, or just search for a particular topic. But most often than not I never remember what it is I wanted to do with the phone/laptop after being disrupted by WhatsApp/Facebook/Gmail notifications”.
Smartphone notifications are a distraction to me mainly because I cannot withstand an unread notification. For example if I receive a phone call as I type this, I will have to stop typing, pick the phone call, then check the screen after the call. If at the time of checking the screen I see some new notifications, I will have to attend to those notifications, otherwise I will be very uneasy, unable to do anything else, the rest of the time. That unread notification bothers me to the extent that I had to reset my phone back to factory setting a few days ago simply because there was one red notification on my Facebook App despite having zero unread messages/notifications on Facebook. Marking all notifications as read didn’t get rid of the irritating notification and all online tips didn’t help either, so I had to reset the phone to factory setting.
The fact that I cannot deal with unread notifications means I have to read all new messages. When I do so I always end up forgetting what I really wanted to do. The notification interference means I am unable to pay full attention to reading, or watching important informative videos. Even when I start reading an interesting article, more often than not a notification will take me away from that article, forcing me to spend the valuable time going through useless social media updates and gossips.
Distractions by smartphone notifications is true for everyone, even to those who can easily ignore them. You must have seen unread social media notifications of some people, majority being female. You would think that those notifications do not distract them, but according to this 2015 article by Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic, those who ignore notifications are equally as distracted as those who attend to the notifications. “As mobile phones become integrated into more and more tasks, it may become increasingly difficult for people to set their phones aside and concentrate fully on the task at hand, whatever it may be”, the article quoted authors of a study that sought to find out how phone notifications interfere with concentration.
The problem of smartphone notification is not limited to distractions and divided attention. As can be inferred from my experience, distractions themselves lead to forgetfulness, inability to recall details, and impaired cognitive performance. These conclusions were reached by Fergus I. M. Craik of Rotman Research Institute in his paper Effects of distraction on memory and cognition: a commentary.
Coupled with smartphone addiction, smartphone notifications make presence of smartphones themselves be a source of retardation. This was a conclusion arrived at by researchers at University of Texas who wrote a paper titled Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity. “During this study, the UT Austin researchers found that someone’s ability to hold and process data significantly improved if his or her smartphone was in another room while taking a test to gauge attentional control and cognitive processes”, wrote Christopher Bergland in the article, Are smartphones making us stupid?
The ways through which smartphones and smartphone addiction accelerate human stupidity are numerous. Not only do these devices make humans spend a lot of time on artificial social interactions through social media, but they also addict humanity to nonsensical data such as gossip, cheap propaganda, cheap sex related social media updates, and brain draining games. The problem is compounded by the fact that these non-helpful data addict the smartphone user who may end up suffering brain damaging consequences such as anxiety, stress, depression, and worse still, suicide.
In the next article we will explore ways through which smartphones can make you become smarter, so that you don’t become one of those people who are become retards as a result of smartphone use.