Here’s a question: Are smart phones and Google making us dumb? After all, smart phones remember everything for you. They store phone numbers, alert you to appointments, and show your location on a map. You can also use them to surf the web for information from just about anywhere, which means if you can’t remember the name of that actor in the movie about robots that change into cars, you don’t have to rack your brain trying to remember – just Google it!
Bill Nye the Science Guy says that smart phones can actually make you smarter, because they help free up memory you’d normally use for mundane information, so you can use it for something else. For example, instead of memorizing phone numbers, your gray matter can be used to remember details about your last vacation, or the day you met your wife. It can also free up your brain for critical, analytical and creative thinking. In other words, you’ll spend less time trying to remember things, and more time coming up with solutions. However, Bill Nye warns that the key to staying smart is not to rely on your smart phone for information if it’s crucial for your survival.
For example, if you’re on a hiking trip, bring a topographical map or mark your trail. Don’t plan to use your smart phone’s GPS, because if the battery dies, or your phone goes out of range, you could get lost. That’s why the U.S. Navy makes sure every ship has several people onboard who can navigate by the stars. Because an electromagnetic pulse from weapons exploded in the atmosphere could disable satellites and make their navigation systems useless. Yes, the Internet is shortening our attention spans, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A British Library study found that people jump so quickly from one link to the next that they don’t have time to read the entire entry, but all those distractions also make us amazingly good at juggling massive amounts of information. Kids who blog or post on social networks are becoming more literate, and are more likely to write short stories, letters, song lyrics, or even keep a journal. Sounds pretty smart to me!