News & Politics

Study Makes It Official: Twitter Is Making Kids Dumber (Sort Of)

(Press Association via AP Images)

Maybe, maybe not:

From The Washington Post:

…new evidence shows that the platform may be inflicting harm at an even more basic level. It could be making its users, well, a bit witless.

The finding by a team of Italian researchers is not necessarily that the crush of hashtags, likes and retweets destroys brain cells; that’s a question for neuroscientists, they said.

Rather, the economists, in a working paper published this month by the economics and finance department at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, found that Twitter not only fails to enhance intellectual attainment but substantially undermines it.

I would like to say that anyone hitting Twitter to “enhance intellectual attainment” is getting life as wrong as one possibly can. That’s like eating at Krispy Kreme three times a day to enhance physical fitness. One point just does not lead to the other in any universe.

Social media has become that catch-all for Western society’s ills in recent years. Every meltdown needs a scapegoat. People will no doubt pounce on this as proof that the road to intellectual hell is paved with hashtags, but let us hold on a minute and look at the particulars of the study:

The investigation drew on a sample of roughly 1,500 students attending 70 Italian high schools during the 2016-2017 academic year. Half of the students used Twitter to analyze “The Late Mattia Pascal,” the 1904 novel by Italian Nobel laureate Luigi Pirandello, which satirizes issues of self-knowledge and self-destruction. They posted quotes and their own reflections, commenting on tweets written by their classmates. Teachers weighed in to stimulate the online discussion.

The other half relied on traditional classroom teaching methods. Performance was assessed based on a test measuring understanding, comprehension and memorization of the book.

So Twitter isn’t an effective tool for helping teenagers learn about literature.

As the kids would say, “Hashtag Duh.”

Twitter really only fails people who have unrealistic expectations for the platform. It’s a quick way to exchange news and/or nonsense (they’re so often the same thing now) with people all over the place. That’s it. If people are gullible enough to believe every tweet they read, that’s on them.

Twitter doesn’t help its own cause. CEO Jack Dorsey is a pompous nit who says idiotic things like the platform is “building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking.”

I’ve spent most of my adult life as a conservative in the entertainment industry. I have healthy debates with people I don’t agree with all of the time in real life.

On Twitter I’m dismissive of most liberals who try to engage me because Twitter is the worst place ever for a “conversation.” Anyone who’s been involved with politics on the right knows that leftists who approach us on Twitter aren’t at all interested in conversation.

As a result, I’m a cartoonish version of my real self, channeling mostly my crankier impulses.

I’m not the only one I know who is like that there.

There are any number of things that are more negatively impacting the critical thinking of kids than social media.

Like the mainstream media in this country, for example.

The insidious thing about this is that most people won’t actually click the link to the article and read it. They’ll just see the tweet I posted at the beginning and run with that.

Again, that’s on them, not Twitter.