Is the Internet making you smarter or more stupid?

An online survey of 895 Web users and experts found more than three-quarters believe the Internet will make people smarter in the next 10 years, according to results released on Friday. Most of the respondents also said the Internet would improve reading and writing by 2020, according to the study, conducted by the Imagining the Internet Center at Elon University in North Carolina and the Pew Internet and American Life project. “Three out of four experts said our use of the Internet enhances and augments human intelligence, and two-thirds said use of the Internet has improved reading, writing and the rendering of knowledge,” said study co-author Janna Anderson, director of the Imagining the Internet Center. But 21 percent said the Internet would have the opposite effect and could even lower the IQs of some who use it a lot. The Web-based survey gathered opinions from scientists, business leaders, consultants, writers and technology developers, along with Internet users screened by the authors. Of the 895 people surveyed, 371 were considered “experts.” It was prompted in part by an August 2008 cover story in the Atlantic Monthly by technology writer Nicholas Carr headlined: “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr suggested in the article that heavy use of the Web was chipping away at users’ capacity for concentration and deep thinking.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE61I5CW20100219

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