The “unplugged” challenge: this is your brain on computers

The New York Times has run an artcle: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/25/technology/25brain.html

Note a quote: “But scientists point to an unanticipated side effect: when people keep their brains busy with digital input, they are forfeiting downtime that could allow them to better learn and remember information, or come up with new ideas.”

How long CAN you go “unplugged”?  How long to you WANT to?  Is the use digital devices in the collegiate setting going to “dumb down” our dialogue?  How can educators compete with the barrage of information that comes at students daily?  hourly?

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4 Responses to “The “unplugged” challenge: this is your brain on computers”

  1. Kimberly Nielsen Says:

    I do believe that the use of digital devices is “dumbing down” our dialogue. I have had several teachers that have reminded their students in class that if you send an E-mail to a teacher you should write it using proper grammar. Some students write E-mails that consist of one long run-on sentence. When I write E-mails to professors I try to write intelligently, rather than babbling on or using terms I should only use with my cohorts. One thing I have noticed though, is that my professors have also relaxed their writing style. While the advancement of technology is assisting our society in several ways, it also has some drawbacks, one being the dumbing down of those involved.

  2. Brooke Biederstedt Says:

    I agree with Kimberly. I have also had a professor who spent part of class time explaining how to write an appropriate email! In fact I was shocked that this explanation was unecessary, but I changed my mind once the professor showed examples of emails she had received.

    When I was reading the article, I found myself agreeing with some of the things that were stated. I found it very interesting when the article discussed the idea of over stimulating the mind and forfeiting learning time. I notice this in my own life when I am studying. In order to fully digest the material I am studying I have to eliminate all distractions, especially my phone and computer. I can see that this article has validity but I also realize that in the world we live in, it is important to find the balance. I, personally, have to know my limits, I have to know when I have to “unplug” myself!

  3. Ashley Vick Says:

    I also agree that technology is dumbing down the society. Not only in the way people write/type things out, but also in everyday conversation. I have heard people throw “text lingo” and abbreviated words into conversations that they are having in person. But that’s not the only way that technology is affecting us. It is taking up our free time, filling awkward moments, and helping us avoid saying “hi” to people we don’t want to talk to. I am sure many people want to give a thanks to their cell phone for helping them get through their day, but they don’t actually realize that it has its negative effects on people. By using their cell phone during free time, people don’t get to completely relax which is probably why people are often saying how tired they are no matter how much sleep they got the night before or what time of day it is. Again, I agree that technology has its drawbacks, but then again people rely on it everyday.

  4. Rebecca VanderClute Says:

    Being a Computer Science major, I have to disagree about the whole “dumbing down” aspect – but that’s just because I program, which involves lots of teamwork and problem-solving. Web design (which I do in my free time as a hobby) also takes some creativity, self-research, and problem-solving. It also doesn’t help that I learned things like the alphabet on the computer (my dad was a computer gaming geek, so he would type the letters out in a blank text document on the computer to teach me, and we had a lot of educational programs). I guess I’m totally biased, ahaha.

    I actually have had a decent period of time where I was “unplugged” – I had just helped my mom move to rural north Texas last Winter Break, and we had no money for internet at the time, so we could only go to the library for it, which had limited hours and wasn’t open on Sundays. The thing that definitely impacted me the most about being “unplugged” from internet functions was the lack of information. I am obsessed with the weather; I guess knowing the probability of what is going to happen gives me some kind of stability in my increasingly hectic life. Hell, we didn’t even know about the Christmas Bomber until our roommate told us about it, because without a TV with cable or any signal, we had no news, either. My sisters across the Atlantic couldn’t contact us (as we can’t really Skype in a library). I felt very cut-off from the rest of the world when I came home to a place without internet access.

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