Last week a study appeared in Computers and Human Behavior under the title “The brain in your pocket: Evidence that Smartphones are used to supplant thinking.” A summary of the findings in ScienceDaily bore the header “Reliance on smartphones linked to lazy thinking.” Researchers tested 660 subjects and found a clear correlation between high smartphone use and lower cognitive skills, especially “the willingness to think in an analytical way.”
It’s just one more study that corroborates the judgments in The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30, the 2008 book by Mark Bauerlein, who became Senior Editor of First Things last year. Since the book’s publication, the immersion of Americans in digital tools has only expanded, tremendously so.
For instance, from 2012 to 2013 along, the percent of online adults who use Facebook rose from 67 percent to 71 percent. That may not look like a huge jump, but during the same time the four other social media sites—LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram—enjoyed similar boosts. Teenagers, in fact, have made Instagram their most important platform.
These are data of the Digital Revolution. We see the effects practically every waking moment, but we don’t know where it’s going and what means for religion and culture.
This week on Wednesday evening Bauerlein will lead a public conversation on those effects at First Things offices on 21st Street. RSVP today!