vrijdag 19 december 2014

Why you should not read this!

You should not read this because you are using digital media right now which causes symptoms of dementia, according to Manfred Spitzer in his book "Digitale dementie" (in Dutch; in English the title would probably be "Digital dementia"). He is very negative about the use of digital media:

"Digital media cause us to use our brain less so that the intellectual performance decreases over time. It even hampers brain development in young people; so right from the start the intellectual capacity stays under the attainable level. This does not only concern our thinking, but also our will, emotions and above all our social behaviour. These effects haven been already demonstrated often and proceed along different mechanisms clarified by research, especially brain research."

The book is a cascade of research results against digital media use and lacks a balanced view. He does not mention any advantages. In my view he misses at least three important general points.

The first is that the future is made right now. If people - and especially children - use digital media now they will do so in the near future.  The balance of human capacities change over time, which is nothing new. For example, people get currently worse at hand writing and better at typing. Typing skills are what the future needs, more than hand writing. How many people nowadays use a quill pen to write? You'd better go with the flow in order to fit into the future world.

The second point is that people try to push their abilities to the limits. So if one loses the ability of fine coordination as learned from hand writing, something will substitute for that. This does not hold for all people, of course. That is what the last point covers.

The last point is that what people do with a new thing or idea depends foremost on their traits instead of the novelty itself. For example, lazy people tend to do "lazy things" with a car or a computer, moderate people make moderate use of tablets and cell phones, etc. The virtues and vices of people (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outline_of_self)  become apparent in the use of things and ideas, quite independent of those things and ideas.

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