According to State of Digital, the Internet is dumbing-down our kids:
At the age of just five, more than 50% of American children habitually use a computer or tablet device, while 95% of those aged 12 to 17 years regularly access the internet, spending more time online than their parents or teachers. 80% of American teens are active on social media.
Why should we care about how kids receive information these days? Because it affects everything, their future and ours. Attention spans are dropping and information overload is leading to a lack of comprehension of the deeper subject. 94% of US teachers confirm that students associate “research” with trawling Google and other search engines with Wikipedia cited by 75% of teachers as a source for their material.
No one wants to wait any more. Time is a drug and the need to feel satiated is of the essence. Why waste it on research, let alone synthesis? Isn’t that what Google is for? Not just to provide quick and easy (if incredibly inaccurate) answers, but to tell us how and what to think about our research topic as well? I remember the days when using Cliff’s Notes was considered cheating. Today, the employment of user-created “resources” like Wikipedia in the classroom isn’t only justified, it’s encouraged!
It isn’t just kids who seek out instant gratification thanks to our Internet-driven culture. Big sellers like Amazon are electing to publish the equivalent of virtual pulp in order to rake in the dough in short-term sales. Commenting on this “BS Machine” (BS, in this case, standing for “best-seller”) is author Ursula K. Le Guin:
“The readability of many best sellers is much like the edibility of junk food,” she writes. Nicely extending the metaphor, she warns of the effect of the books we consume: “I believe that reading only packaged microwavable fiction ruins the taste, destabilizes the moral blood pressure, and makes the mind obese.”
In terms of education, the BS machine stands for something far more familiar, and horrifying than best-seller. An entire generation is being raised in the BS mindset, leading one to question (among other things) if Mike Judge didn’t have a prophetic moment when he penned Idiocracy.