Digital News Report – The PBS show Frontline did a segment back in 2007 about our digital lives and last night they built upon that foundation with their broadcast of “Digital Nation”. Our world has indeed changed over the past decade.
Are we getting “dumbed down” or has the new media helped us be more productive. If you go to the PBS website, it is very difficult to find the transcript or anything written about the broadcast. In place of written documents, the public broadcasting networks wants you to watch the video.
“We were all in the same house, but we were also in other worlds,” producer Rachel Dretzin said describing what was happening around her home. While she was cooking dinner one night she noticed her husband working on a laptop, while her son was also doing his homework on a laptop, and her younger kids were playing games on her iPhone. “I didn’t see it coming”. We have become a “digital nation”.
“Geeks are normal now”, Douglas Rushkoff said. Rushkoff has helped her on other productions. Kids nowadays can’t remember a time they couldn’t be online anywhere they went.
Fewer people are paying attention to the people they are with. People are looking at their blackberries, computer screens or other digital screens.
One instructor said that after giving the kids a test, he noticed something. Today, many more are scoring poorly. Why? “It is not that they are dumb,” he said. They are districted by everything else (digital media).
“They have done themselves a disservice by drinking the Kool-Aid and believing that a multitasking learning environment will serve their best purposes,” MIT Professor Sherry Turkle said. You should only think about one thing in class.
The students believe they can multitask. So far no one has measured it, but at Stanford they are studying it. Professor Clifford Mass at Stanford has compared brain images of multitaskers with non-multitaskers.
Using volunteers from the school, Mass did a study. He found that people who thought they could multitask, really couldn’t. He believes multi-taskers were worse at “analytic reasoning” and they were also unable to “think well and clearly”.
People get distracted by their gadgets. Kids are spending 50 hours a week with digital media. Doctor Gary Small at UCLA found the brain is more active on Google compared to reading a book. There was more activity in the front of the brain (the decision area).
“On a brain scan big is not necessarily better,” Small said. Small is better sometimes.
By: Sam Lee