Do Social Networks Make Us Dumber?

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

socialnetworksAccording to an Australian psychologist, Facebook makes you smarter, but Twitter makes you dumber. Why? Well, it has to do with exercising your working memory.

Staying on top of Facebook is like solving puzzles, since it hones our ability to remember and use information. But more “micro-level” activities like Twitter, watching YouTube videos, and text messaging weaken these same skills by shortening our attention spans. Says Dr. Alloway from the University of Stirling, “On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct. You don’t have to process that information. Your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.”

Salon wonders if maybe for those of us who use both Facebook and Twitter, the effect simply cancels itself out, leaving us no better or worse than we were.

Of course, this theory doesn’t appear to be based on any sort of research, just musings about the nature of attention and memory. Though apparently “there is research” linking extensive texting with lower IQ scores.

So could Web 2.0 and micro-blogging and texting in particular be making us stupider? That’s what they said about television, and society hasn’t fallen apart yet.

[Image Source: aqhong (CC)]