Technology Making People Under 30 Dumber, Professor Says

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A professor and author told some Piedmont residents Wednesday that those under 30 who are heavily involved with technology could be hurting their intelligence.

Mark Bauerlein, a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, discussed what he called "The New Generation Gap" at Greensboro Public Library on Church Street.

Bauerlein became famous for his 2008 book, "The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future."

Bauerlein said young people spend too much time keeping up with what their friends are doing on social networks and in text messages. As a result, Bauerlein said they don't spend enough time developing face-to-face social skills and other intellectual skills.

"What we have are long-standing forces of peer pressure and adolescent insecurities now being ramped up by these digital tools," Bauerlein said.

He cites a statistic that SAT writing scores have gone down in each of the last five years.

"This doesn't make sense unless you say all of that communication they do, they do in their leisure and social lives. It's growing bad habits that they do bring into the classroom," Bauerlein said.

And since the social media influence is so strong, Bauerlein said teachers don't really have a fair fight.

"A teacher who only sees them a few hours a week has an uphill battle to try and teach better writing skills and better vocabulary," Bauerlein said.

However, many Piedmont students disagreed with Bauerlein.

"We may be lazy with our texts and stuff, but I don't feel like we are the dumbest generation," said one student.

"I would agree that social media may not be the most useful form to connect with people, but I wouldn't say it makes you dumb," said another student.

Bauerlein's solution is to encourage those under 30 to spend at least 20 minutes a day away from social media and find non-"connected" things to either read or experience.

As for the perception that he is simply a curmudgeon, Bauerlein said he does appreciate the wide variety of information the Internet has to offer.