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Barnaby's avatar

Will the children that are born into the age of the internet think in a more insightful and enlightened way by the time they turn 18?

Asked by Barnaby (175points) March 11th, 2010

There is an argument that the modern world is becoming more like a collective brain due to the learning and sharing tool that is the internet. With what we are given is something lost? Is this another process that is a step down the road of human evolution?

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36 Answers

Snarp's avatar

I don’t think it has anything to do with evolution. Evolution requires many, many generations. Changes wrought by the internet are not heritable, they don’t happen at the DNA level.

Snarp's avatar

I see no way that the internet will result in people being more insightful or enlightened. The opposite appears to be far more common.

deni's avatar

Other way around. They will spend more time wasting away on the internet instead of playing outside and making friends in real life instead of the virtual world.

wundayatta's avatar

Every generation is smarter than the previous generation, on average. That’s why they have to recalibrate the SAT tests every generation or so. Other IQ tests are also recalibrated. One possible reason for this phenomenon is that when you know more, it is easier to pass on more to the next generation. Young people learn faster because older people have learned how to pass the knowledge on more efficiently.

I don’t know what “collective brain” means, but certainly the internet has vastly sped up communication and access to knowledge. People are still individuals, though. Their collective efforts keep on pushing the frontiers of knowledge forward, but there still isn’t any direct brain to brain communication, much less shared thinking.

We, as humans, have not been “given” anything. We’ve created it ourselves. Of course some individuals benefit from the inventions of others, but it wasn’t like there was any magic or supernatural entity that “gave” us the internet.

As always, we gain new things and we lose old things. The computer supplants the typewriter. The internet supplants the telephone network (and other networks, as well). The car eliminated the need for the buggy whip. That which is no longer needed or efficient tends to drop out of use, except for a few craftspersons who enjoy doing things in an old-fashioned way.

Our children will be smarter than we are. Perhaps it is a trend that will add up to evolutionary change in a gazillion years (or less). No one can tell. Certainly it is an evolution of culture and knowledge, if not an evolution in human physical structure and capability.

I think the heart of this question is about loss of old ways. What do we lose when various practices no longer become necessary? Is there a value in keeping up old things, such as card readers or readers for other old formats of data? Is it worth knowing how to carve wood or throw a pot? Is it worth keeping typewriters around? Interesting question. Maybe I’ll ask it.

Barnaby's avatar

I know the internet was invented but what I mean is it could be a tool to help us see the world from a different perspective and therefore with that different perspective we can lead to different leaps of imagination and intellectual processes. I dont think the this is the be all and end all of life. In fact far from it.

Barnaby's avatar

I wish I could change my question! I just meant differently rather than more insightful and enlgightened.

Snarp's avatar

@wundayatta To my knowledge the SAT test gets easier every time they modify it. I have had professors who went to Harvard who had an education I cannot comprehend. They seem to recall every detail from those years, even those that have nothing to do with their particular specialty. A Harvard education today is nothing like what it was then. I don’t think every generation gets “smarter” in any heritable or even in any biological way. They may have access to more and better information and education, but I don’t think that is remotely the case for education, in the United States at least, any more. As far as access to information, what we now have is access to more information than any human being can possibly process, most of it garbage. This leads to a generation that believes they are smarter and know more than previous generations, but that in fact knows less of value and has brains full of blatantly false information. In short, I completely disagree with your premise and see no statistical or factual support for it.

Barnaby's avatar

I agree that the way we understand the wolrd is changing and this is not necessarily because of the internet. The internet is just another tool to express that understanding. The only true form of learning is experience in the non-virtual world.

Snarp's avatar

I would say that the internet is the only way to begin to cope with the enormous and growing totality of human knowledge, and specialization of individuals is a necessary evil. I would hope that we can still convey a good general education and adequate background in many fields while we provide that specialized education. Sadly our education systems seem poised to entirely abandon hopes of providing general education in favor of increased specialization, leading to a world of highly skilled technicians who are incapable of weighing information about fields outside of their own narrow specialty or of making sound decisions regarding the wider world.

Snarp's avatar

Gosh, I’m a downer.

CMaz's avatar

There is a time and a place for everything.
Sometimes it is better not to know.

davidbetterman's avatar

No. They will mostly need to be deprogrammed.

silverfly's avatar

Go watch Idiocracy. :)

CMaz's avatar

I tutor people on how to use their computer and how to navigate the internet.

1. I tell them they should have bought a Frisbee.
2. The internet is not for children. THAT is the educational systems fault.

When an 8 year old sees a woman sucking a horses penis. Or a couple of big bucks tag teaming a woman. They will never be the same again.
How impotent is a child’s youth to you?

The end does not justify the means. In this case.

davidbetterman's avatar

By the way, where was that women sucking horse site?

How impotent is a child’s youth to you?

LOL…Double entendre?

marinelife's avatar

The Internet is a reflection of humanity with all its warts. it enables great feats and it enables terrible things.

For the most part, it is ho hum.

I don’t think it will help mankind’s thinking. There are no signs that it is.

Possibly if the poor had access to it, it could help education and enlightenment, but they don’t.

It also facilitates the spread of conspiracy theories and other vast ignorance.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

No. Hell no. But they won’t waste as much time looking for porn as we had to, so at least they’ll have a chance to do something else with their lives… like play video games.

wundayatta's avatar

Sorry. Not SAT tests. IQ tests.

TooBlue's avatar

Humans are still evolving, but I’m not decided on whether the internet age will be a benefit or detriment to the human race.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Some will certainly be more enlightened than the parents liked for them to be and that’s really great news.

Coloma's avatar

I agree..the internet is a tool, not a way of life, and certainly censorship is vitally important for young kids.

Life cannot be experienced via cyberland…life experience will always trump a computer monitor.

Any sedentary pursuit, TV or otherwise, taken to the extreme is unhealthy.

I enjoy the cerebral stimulation of sites such as this, but being outside in the sunshine & fresh air absorbing life as it comes is far preferable to slumping over one’s laptop for hours on end.

Snarp's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I think the next generation will be more enlightened in many ways, too. It seems that to more and more teenagers today discrimination based on sexual orientation seems as silly as racial discrimination seems to most of my generation. I just don’t think the internet has anything to do with it.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Snarp It has a lot to do with it or it can, anyway – look shae just told us about the country in MI that canceled prom because a lesbian girl wanted to take her gf and to wear a tux – now I wrote to the Superintendent (because Shae gave us the email) and forwarded my email to a group of my friends and forwarded the email address and the situation to all 150 of my facebook friends and many of them are emailing as we speak – that all took 15 minutes and because of the internet more people are exposed to homophobia and what we can do about it.

Snarp's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Granted. But I think that it is, as others have noted, more of a tool than a driving force. I’m convinced of the arc of the universe bending toward justice, not without the work of people, but not because of the internet either. I guess I was wrong to say that the internet has nothing to do with it though.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Snarp Yes, my indignancy (that’s a word) comes from me but spreads via the internet, lol

Shuttle128's avatar

Our abilities to communicate with more and more people has been dramatically increased through the use of the internet. I consider the sharing of ideas in such a high volume very similar to a hive-mind. Of course the thoughts aren’t directly expressed between minds but a lot more of the message gets across than it did only 20 years ago. The more we can share our thoughts with each other the more easily good ideas can be filtered out of the garbage. When I read questions and answers on Fluther I’m being affected by the messages. I can see interesting things I’d never thought before and from this take them with me. 20 years ago this could not have happened.

faye's avatar

I think everyone will know more and that has to be a good thing. But I know I make less effort to go out because I can play on my laptop. But when I have a bed day it’s a lifesaver and I’m sure saves lots of people from feeling depressed.

josie's avatar

In the US there is a dangerous convergence-a deluge of information from the internet combined with a lack of the development of logical ability in public schools. Most graduates of US public education do not even know what a logical fallacy is, much less what are the most commen ones that are used in politics and commentary. Answer-no

Ron_C's avatar

I tend to think that the human race is devolving. The Internet is possibly a contributing factor but the devolution started with things like black and white power movements, television, and the loss of real leadership in the family.

I know that none of that really affects us on the DNA level but it seems that the dumbest and most violent of us breed the most. Look at these guys that have 6 or 8 kids and do nothing to support them. Those traits are passed on. The fathers shallowness coupled with the mother’s stupidity. Their kids will likely grow up to do the same. We already see this with 32 year old grandmothers and pregnant 14 year olds. There is a very slim chance that their kids and grandchildren will be any sort of brain trust.

The increase of stupidity is the hallmark of our decline.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t know about ‘devolving’.

I tend to think, see, from much of my philosophical pursuits a HUGE interest in expanding ones consciousness, bettering ones mind, abilities, creativity, concern for the planet.
For every 14 yr. old mother, or deadbeat dad I think there is an opposite in terms of EVOLOUTION.

Double edged sword if you ask me! :-)

I go with the mantra of ‘There is nothing new under the sun.’
People have been saying the exact same thing since the dawn of society…’ Ooooh, kids today, these people’ and so forth & so on!

Just lead by example, all one can do to make a difference.

YARNLADY's avatar

Different, yes, but the value remains to be seen. Just like TV could have been the tool to bring peace to the world.

Ron_C's avatar

@Coloma I envy your optimism.

Coloma's avatar

Thanks RonC….if you meant that in a non-sarcastic way! lol
Wow…envy your travel, work assignments in all those amazing places!

Ron_C's avatar

@Coloma I wasn’t being sarcastic. I just never force myself to see the human race as improving. As for the travel, I am now stuck in northern Illinois for a cloudy cold weekend. Nothing to envy there.

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