Technology rising, cognition dropping!
Do you know who Larry Page and Sergey Brin are? Google them. They are actually the founders of Google, an American multinational technology company that is used by more than 1 billion people a day. Google is one of the creations that came with technological development. This development caused a phenomenon that is called now, digitalism. Digitalism is defined as the unhealthy consequences that arise from the over use of digitalis in our world. Nowadays, information is handed to us on a silver plate and it will definitely be easier for the upcoming generations. That is why college students from around the world, specifically in Lebanon, heavily rely on their computers/ipads and the Internet to get their work done. This will lead us to question how the regular utilization of E-learning, E-books, and the Internet for knowledge gathering in Lebanon is affecting their cognition by altering memory capacity, reducing learning achievement, and controlling organizational behavior.
Modern computers, invented in 1940, are distinguished from old computers by their ability to be programmed, that is, their ability to perform tasks on their own through encoded instructions. In 1990, when the Internet became recognizable, all computing devices worldwide became connected. Through it, information about the world, research, and media… was easily communicable and freely accessible by anyone at anytime. The indispensability of these devices is increasing more and more and they’re becoming an essential part of human beings’ lifestyles. Therefore, many researches were conducted to examine the advantages and disadvantages of computers. Especially, humans began to rely cognitively on devices like E- learning, Mobile-Learning, Google… that replaced human intellectual capacities like memory, computational capacity, and many others. This reliance is shown, through different academic researches, to decrease human cognitive abilities such as learning, memory, executive control, and many others. This is why, in this research, we will examine how this overreliance harms human’s cognition, which is important not only to try to limit the harmful effects of these devices by finding alternatives that could compensate or decrease these negative effects, but also to be able to design better technologies that still have the benefits of current ones but do not harm individuals in this way. Thus the challenge of creating a device that suits human needs without harming them.
Firstly, having easy access to the Internet regresses human’s memory capacity in different ways. For example, the ability to find all the needed information on Google and to save every material on computer drive can push lazy students to rely solely on their computers/ipads. This way, less information is memorized due to its availability online or on the device. Other than that, students focus more on remembering the sources of their information rather than the material itself. Despite that, college students still regard technology as one of the most important discoveries, providing them with all kind of needed information whether it’s for a biology course or an Arabic course. Additionally, technology helps them with their studies and their research. This way they can’t forget anything and they feel relieved to always be able to look up any forgotten material. That’s why, research are showing that when students want answers for any educational questions, they immediately seek their computers and the Internet before trying to think about it themselves. Even though students think of technology as their life saver in anything related to school/college, studies are showing the exact opposite. Easy accessibility to computers and the Internet decreases human’s ability to recognize and recall information. Instead of having information encoded in student’s brains, they have it on their computers. Therefore, technology impairs memory, causing difficulty for students in retrieving information, especially during exams, affecting consequently their performance
Secondly, relying on technologies in education reduces learning achievement. In fact, the excessive use of E-learning, E-books, Mobile-learning to gather information about the world creates distraction, and bombards students with loads of information. For instance, most people are distracted by other components on the device used for learning like using whatsapp, reading, or even playing games. Also, these technologies provide a great load of data about a subject, which often keeps the main point and its essence blurred. Consequently, as technologies provide lots of distraction and a burden of information, the encoded knowledge decreases. Actually, some research explains that divided attention caused by diversion during learning lowers learning performance. Furthermore, research on cognitive-load theory proves that combining “real-world” data with information in mobile-learning decreases learning achievement. However, it is believed that these technologies are beneficial because they are easily accessible and provide quickly more information about a certain subject of interest and in different aspects, which enrich our knowledge about it. But, new studies show that this “overload” of information affects cognition negatively, especially memory, which decreases learning outcome and thus performance. Therefore, the dependency on new devices to gather knowledge is harmful for learning.
Finally, the excessive use of Internet affects and reshapes human cognition in many ways. As mentioned before, human access to a variety of information through the internet as well as the availability of numerous applications on phones, laptops, or online can lead to distraction and weakness of memory. On the other hand, it also causes the emergence of addiction to certain non adaptive behavior such as addiction to video games or aggressive and criminal behavior.
It is important to acknowledge the benefits of technology as they facilitated human’s lives in different aspects, and it would be naive to say that technologies only harm human beings. However, it is important to evaluate the harm in technologies to be able to improve them while maintaining their benefits. Certainly, technologies facilitated access to data and made different computational processes easier, but over relying on these technologies in the simplest task limits the use of human brains’ full potential in different areas of knowledge gathering, memory, and analysis. Moreover, the world is witnessing the replacement of mankind by machines because of their superior capacities in certain tasks, however one can’t ignore that humans created these machines in the first place and therefore machinery capacities are only a small part of human capacities integrated in them. Human beings have essential capabilities beyond machines such as emotions, rational thinking, and capability to relate to others. Human’s high cognitive abilities are being affected and decreased through time because of their reliance on technologies more frequently than they rely on themselves.
Development of technology is seen as a beneficial phenomenon by the majority of college student .We concluded that, students are not using their own capacities thus they are unaware of how much they are capable of achieving by using them, and how much they’re reducing them by not using them. Their reliance on technological tools can affect their ability to analyze, to interpret data, and to focus, memorize, and learn. The overconsumption of technology affects individuality, human relations and replaces “humanness” with machines. However, humans are not only being replaced by machines, but they are actually becoming one. Exercising regularly on storing information, retrieving it, and relying on own cognitive capacity for intellectual work can increase cognitive abilities and therefore allow humans to benefit from their “natural” gifts.