Right now I'm reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brainsby Nicholas Carr. He wrote an article for The Atlantic magazine a few years back called “Is Google making us Stoopid?” and this book is essentially an elaboration on that.
Carr is a technology writer critical of how the Internet may be affecting the way we think. Our heavy-duty usage of the web may be essentially rewiring our brains, he argues, and he makes a pretty convincing argument.
I automatically think of the availability of internet and facebook for kids to use for homework. When they research, they're not breaking out the encyclopedias gathering dust at the library; they're going online where everything is “scan-able.”
What I mean by “scan-able” is this: web writing is different than what you see in books. Internet articles avoid big blocks of text, complex sentences, and long paragraphs. Bold subheads enumerate each point. Basically, you should be able to scan the article and know what it says without actually reading it. (I'm a web writer, I know).
Is this emphasis on “scan-ability” on the Internet impacting our kids' brains? Are they becoming more impatient? Is it making them more likely to turn to Cliff's Notes instead of slogging through The Merchant of Venice?
I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that the Internet is making our kids “stoopid.” But I can see how it could, just maybe, be impacting the way they think on a deeper level than we suspect.