Digital technology is ubiquitous. Over the past 20 years, we have become more and more dependent on smartphones, tablets and computers — the Kovid-19 pandemic has accelerated that trend.
Traditional wisdom says that over-reliance on technology can impede our ability to remember, pay attention, and exercise self-control.
In fact, these are important cognitive skills.
However, the fear that technology will replace knowledge is not well established.
Technology is changing society
Socrates, considered by many to be the father of philosophy, was deeply concerned about how the technology of writing would affect society.
He feared that the oral tradition of discourses would require a certain amount of mana mor text, which would eliminate the need to study writing and mana mor text.
This part is interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that there has been a generational discussion about the impact of new technologies on the cognitive abilities of future generations.
This remains a reality today: the telephone, radio, and television have all been hailed as the pioneers of the end of knowledge.
This brings us to the second reason why this quote is interesting. Despite Socrates’ concerns, many of us are still able to submit information to memory when needed.
Technology reduces the need for certain scientific activities, not our ability to perform them.
In addition to popular media claims, some scientific findings have been interpreted to mean that digital technology can lead to loss of memory, attention or executive function.
However, in scrutiny of these claims, we see two main argumentative assumptions.
The first assumption is that the influence on long-term cognitive abilities persists.
The second assumption is that digital technology has a direct impact, rather than a moderate impact on knowledge.
However, both hypotheses do not directly support empirical results.
A critical review of the evidence suggests that the obvious results are temporary, not long-term.
For example, in a major study, when people inquired about the reliance on external memory, participants were less likely to remember parts of information when they were told that information would be stored on a computer and accessed by them.
On the other hand, they remembered well when told they would not save the information.
From these findings there is a temptation to conclude that the use of technology leads to poor memory – a conclusion drawn by the study authors.
When technology was available, people believed it, but when it was not available, they were still perfectly capable of remembering.
Therefore, it would be very bad to conclude that technology is weakening our memory capacity.
Furthermore, the impact of digital technology on knowledge can be much more motivated than one’s cognitive processes.
In fact, cognitive processes operate in the context of goals for which our motivations may vary.
In particular, the more motivated a mission is, the more engaging and focused we become.
This view modifies the experimental evidence that shows that smartphones interfere with performance at constant attention, working memory, or functional fluid intelligence.
Motivational factors play a role in survey results, especially when participants consider the tasks required in the study to be irrelevant or tedious.
Digital technology can compromise on the motivational value of an experimental job, as there are many important tasks we perform using digital technology, such as interacting with loved ones, answering emails, and enjoying entertainment.
This means that digital technology does not hinder knowledge; If a job is important or attractive, smartphones will not affect the ability of people to do it.
Through the use of digital technology, internal cognitive processes focus on storing and computing information.
Instead, these processes convert information into downloadable formats for digital devices – such as search styles – and then reload and interpret.
This type of cognitive discharge occurs when people make notes on paper or help children do math instead of handing over certain information in long-term memory.
The main difference is that digital technology allows us to offload complex information more efficiently and effectively than analog devices, without losing accuracy.
An important advantage is that the internal intellectual ability is freed up for other tasks, free from performing specific functions such as remembering an appointment from the calendar.
This, in turn, means that we can achieve more, intellectually speaking, than ever before.
In this way, digital technology should not be seen as competing with our internal cognitive process. Instead, it completes knowledge and develops our ability to complete things.
* Lorenzo Secutty is a PhD student in Marketing from the University of Toronto, Canada. Spike WS Lee is an Associate Professor of Management and Psychology at the same institute.
Videos: Most viewed g1 in last 7 days
Musicaholic. Twitter guru. Total bacon fanatic. Zombie ninja. Freelance student. Coffee fan. Gamer.