As technology continues to advance so does our access to information. If you don’t know what the word cacophony means, you Google it. If you don’t know who the seventh President of the United States is, you Google it. If you want to find the best Chinese food restaurant near your current location, you Google it!
My point is we rely on Google, the internet and technology for possibly any information we don’t know. If we wanted to know any of these things 15 years ago you would have to reference a textbook or map in order to find this information. This begs the question: is technology making us stupid? This is exactly what researchers are looking into.
Betsy Sparrow, who works in the Psychology Department of Columbia University, decided to conduct an experiment on what the effects of search engines and technology have had on memory. Sparrow found that when students were told to write a statement that would be saved, they were less likely to memorize or remember what they wrote in their statement.
This is because they know that if they could reference this information later they don’t feel the need to remember it. Instead, they use the computer or the search engine as a memory source that they can reference back to if need be. I am definitely guilty of this.
If I know I can constantly look up concepts and information for a class, I wont take as much time to retain the information. I do believe this is a bad habit. I think that our current generation and the future generations use technology as a crutch.
We don’t feel the need to learn as much as we would. If we knew that the only access to certain information was in specific textbooks or hard copy records we would be more likely to retain the information or study it. However, because finding information is as easy as lifting a finger we get lazy. Google has given us a privilege that most of the older generations have not been able to have.
Some researchers even argue that our laptops, cell phones, and search engines are an extension of our ‘memory’. They say that we know if we needed to we know where to access certain information, we can easily access it and remember where we have stored this information in our computer-based ‘memories’.
Socrates even feared that technologies and written word would weaken our memories. Growing up computers and the internet was obviously not as complex and fast as it is now. I didn’t constantly use Google or other search engines to look up information. However, my youngest sister who is only 12 does look up whatever she doesn’t know on Google.
It’s pretty scary to think about how their memory or ability to retain information will be affected in their future. Now that I am in college, I do have a bad habit of relying on technology and search engines to give me answers I need. I admit, if I don’t know how to do a math or chemistry problem I Google it. I have the textbook, I have my notes, but I know that it would be quicker to just look it up.
I use it as a crutch and maybe that is the problem. Maybe I need to take the time to do problems and read the book rather than Google what I don’t know. It’s the harsh reality of it, but I don’t think I am alone in this.
Technology has realistically not been around for that long, but the impact it has had on society is tremendous.
Senior Viewpoints Editor