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Smartphones and digital technology don’t dumb as down, says new study

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Smartphones and digital technology don’t dumb us down, instead, they change the ways in which we engage our biological cognitive abilities -changes which are actually cognitively beneficial – finds a new study that explains how smart technology supplements thinking.

In a paper titled “Technology may change cognition without necessarily harming it” in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, Anthony Chemero, a social/behavioral expert at the University of Cincinnati, explains that while there are plenty of negatives associated with smart technology, there is also a positive, concluding that the digital age is not making us stupid.

While there may be other consequences to smart technology, “making us stupid is not one of them,” says Chemero.

In the paper, Chemero and colleagues at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management expound on the evolution of the digital age, explaining how smart technology supplements thinking, thus helping us to excel.

According to Chemero, smart gadgets such as smartphones and tablets function as an auxiliary, serving as tools that are good at memorization, calculation and storing information and presenting information when you need it.

Despite the headlines, there is no scientific evidence that shows that smartphones and digital technology harm our biological cognitive abilities.

Anthony Chemero

In addition, digital technology augments decision-making skills that we would be hard-pressed to accomplish on our own. For instance, when driving around in a new city, the GPS technology on our smartphones not only help us get there but also lets us choose a route based on traffic conditions, explains the paper’s lead author Lorenzo Cecutti, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto.

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