Do Smartphones Make Smart People?

The debate of whether smartphones, or technology in general, make people smart or the otherwise is still a rampant discussion anywhere, either online or offline. As undeniable as it may be, we benefit so much from the innovative gadgets that are made available to us; they simply make our lives a lot easier. And because of this benefit, we fail to see technology’s drawbacks. Trust me; it has its own set of disadvantages. It only boils down to determining whether its benefits outweigh its detriments.
Going back to the issue at hand, are smartphones really making us smarter or dumber? An interview was conducted by MarketWatch, soliciting the opinions of Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a psychologist at University College London and vice president of Hogan Assessments and Sharon Oviatt, author of “The Design of Future Educational Interfaces” about technology and the issues pertinent to it. Here is what these two reputable individuals have to say.
Are we becoming overly dependent on technology? If so, how does it show?
Says Chamorro-Premuzic, “We are obsessed with making everything faster and cheaper. The result of this obsession is that we become less skilful.” Especially with social media, where anybody can gain friends, we tend to pay less attention to our body language and etiquette while communicating with one another. Oviatt, on the other hand, believes that it is solely dependent on the person himself. She says, “There are major individual differences among people, in terms of impulsivity and reflectivity. Reflective people are better at inhibiting distractions and inappropriate uses of technology.”
Are smartphones a catalyst that disrupts learning?
According to Chamorro-Premuzic, “You can think of the human mind as the knowledge stored inside a smartphone. It provides an answer to every question that we want to ask.” Because of the convenience that our trusty handsets provide us, we tend to take “learning” for granted, as information is now stored in memory cards or virtual clouds that simply answer our every question. He added, “Our brains no longer have to store knowledge. We just need to know how to retrieve it.” And what we retrieve from technology cannot always be something that we can vouch their accuracy and credibility for.
Is being without our handheld device making us anxious?
A lot of people can’t seem to go on with their lives without their mobile devices. They start to feel anxiety kicking in the moment that they find out that their phone is out of reach. And both of the esteemed experts are not even surprised about this fact. Actually, they said that they had similar experiences. Chamorro-Premuzic shares, “During Hurricane Sandy last October, I was away, and my wife was at home in New York. For two and a half days, her building was flooded, and she couldn’t leave or charge her phone. I was desperate to get in touch with her.” He continues, “We have the ability to connect with people at any point in time, and we take this for granted except, of course, when that ability is taken away.”
Does technology ultimately make us smarter than the generations of the past?
An average child these days would be almost gifted by the 1950s standards. The average IQ score then was 100, but current generations have increased their average IQ score by 15 points. Even experts can’t conclusively say as to why this increase has occurred. Maybe, this is just as a result of our ability to adapt to our environment. As PCs have become equipped with faster processors compared to those of yesteryears, so as with the human brain.
This entry is a guest post of Armon, an Internet Marketer and Tech blogger. He is currently working at Ecell Global Philippines – a trusted source for cellphone accessories. Follow him on twitter @gatusarmon.

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