It is human nature to resist change. Every major technological advancement in human history has brought with it societal change. The industrial revolution prompted large populations to congregate in city centers, while improved telecommunication technology-enabled remote collaboration. There is no denying that technology brings about change that humans resist through their emphasis on negative impacts and repercussions.
Although naysayers may be the loudest, their messages aren’t absolute. While there is no denying the negative cognitive effects associated with the overuse of technology, there is also no denying the positive. Although some traditional cognitive skills may be decreased due to technology, other, more advanced cognitive skills are replacing them with the potential to serve us better in the future.
Better Visual and Spatial Skills
While first-person shooter video games are often considered a danger to children, a recent study suggests otherwise. The immersive nature of first-person shooter games can boost decision-making skills as players are forced to make snap decisions.
These games have also been shown to improve visual skills as players take in visual cues in order to make decisions. For example, players are trained to notice slight peripheral movements in order to eliminate threats within games. This can enhance video-spatial attention skills and improve player’s ability to absorb details from their environment both on and off the screen.
Additionally, strategy-based video games can improve player’s cognitive flexibility as they switch between activities. This type of flexibility can also improve player’s ability to multitask in real-life scenarios.
Although it’s true that overuse of smartphones can cause anxiety and stress, a recent study found that smartphones can actually improve happiness. More specifically, taking photos and selfies increased participants’ levels of happiness.
Some participants took photos of things that made them happy, while other participants took selfies when they felt confident and good about themselves. Revisiting these photos promoted feelings of happiness and helped boost self-esteem.
While there is no denying that witnessing other’s take selfies can be irritating if it helps individuals feel confident and happy maybe it isn’t such a bad thing after all.
While smartphones can do a seemingly endless number of tasks, there is an underlying theme to everything they do, which is keeping us connected. Human beings are social creatures that crave connection and contact.
Since our busy lives often prohibit the levels of face-to-face interaction that we have with loved ones, smartphones can help fill this void by facilitating communication. Studies have shown that connecting with loved ones can promote feelings of calmness in individuals who need emotional support to deal with stress.
Although physical contact with loved ones is the best way to promote feelings of well-being, smartphone-assisted connectedness serves as a solid replacement when face-to-face contact is unavailable.
While critics are quick to condemn technology and the potential negative effects it can have on our mental health, the picture isn’t always black and white. Of course, over-use of technology can lead to mental and physical problems, but that can be said about many things.
While relying on technology may be decreasing our short-term memories, the convenience of technology allows our brains to engage in more advanced processing. Instead of memorizing phone numbers and facts, we often refer to Google, which leaves our brains free for more advanced processes such as contemplation, critical thinking, and problem-solving.
There is a silver lining to everything and although humans often resist change, there are times when it is for the better. Maybe today’s children won’t memorize any phone numbers by heart, but if they become problem-solving masterminds would that be such a bad thing?
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.