Positive and Negative Effects of Technology on Cognitive Skills

It is impossible to imagine the contemporary life without advanced technologies. We use them every day to connect with people, study, do business, order food or a taxi, relax, and perform many other tasks. We became highly dependent on our smartphones and laptops that have made our life easier and more comfortable (Coopersmith, 2016). However, there is still no unanimity as to whether technologies are good or bad for us. In particular, some scholars believe that the excessive reliance on technologies decreases cognitive skills and makes people less self-reliant and creative (Hiscott, 2014).

Others disagree and note that technology, on the contrary, develops our visual and spatial skills and makes us more prepared to survive in the contemporary world (Kelly, 2014). As far as I am concerned, technologies can be both valuable and detrimental – it all depends on how and for what purposes they are used.

Smartphones, laptops, GPS, the Internet – all these technologies are widely used today by people of all ages and social groups. Whereas in the past, one needed to use the map and substantial special skills to find a way, today, GPS does all the hard work while you drive effortlessly. Contemporary students no longer need to sit in the library all day to find the necessary information. Everything can be found and downloaded online, so studying has become much easier and quicker. All calculations can be made with the help of specialized programs, so there is no need to spend hours and days completing statistical analysis or filling records at work. There are thousands of ways to use technologies, and given their efficiency and convenience, it is not surprising that people prefer relying on them in their work and everyday life.


But how does this dependence affect our cognitive skills? Some scholars believe that technologies made us less creative and intelligent because we became unaccustomed to solving complicated problems that require concentration and knowledge (Hiscott, 2014). People no longer need to memorize information that can be easily found online. Why bother if you can learn it in one click? As a result, our memory is not trained to retain valuable information, and we become more distracted and forgetful. Lin et al. (2012) even found that excessive use of the Internet has adverse effects on the human brain that can be compatible with those caused by drug and alcohol addiction.


At the same time, there are many positive effects of technologies that should be mentioned. Thus, evidence suggests that video games improve users’ spatial skills and teach them to make quick decisions. Studying online also has its advantages as students can have access to an almost unlimited number of sources. Finding the most relevant ones and analyzing them properly requires much attention and knowledge. One may suggest that automatization is not always detrimental because it can save time for more complex cognitive challenges. Besides, memory can also be trained with the help of technologies, especially when a person uses some brain training apps (Kouroupetroglou, 2014).


Although one cannot deny the fact that excessive use of technologies may adversely affect cognitive abilities, it would be wrong to claim that they bring only harm. In fact, I believe that to be able to use some of the advanced technologies, a person should possess unique skills. Overall, it all depends on how a person uses technologies. Naturally, excessive use can be harmful to an individual’s health and intellectual abilities. However, a moderate application of innovations can expand the horizons and bring numerous opportunities for our personal development and growth. Thus, the main aim is to find a balance between real-life experience and technologies and take advantage of both means of perceiving the world.

References:


Coopersmith, J. (2016). Is technology making us dumber or smarter? Yes. The Conversation. Retrieved from http://theconversation.com/is-technology-making-us-dumber-or-smarter-yes-58124
Hiscott, R. (2014). 8 ways technology makes you stupid. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/25/technology-intelligence_n_5617181.html
Kelly, M. (2014). Using iPads could help older adults’ thinking abilities. Live Science. Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/46551-learning-new-tech-improves-thinking-memory.html
Kouroupetroglou, C. (2014). Enhancing the human experience through assistive technologies and e-accessibility. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Lin, F., Zhou, Y., Du, Y., Qin, L., Zhao, Z., Xu, J. and Lei, H. (2012). Abnormal white matter integrity in adolescents with Internet addiction disorder: A tract-based spatial statistics study. PLoS ONE, 7(1), e30253. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0030253

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