Social Media: Helping or Hindering Your Learning Curve?

Mar 24, 2014

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Social Media can clog up our time, hinder our social lives, and impede our productivity. We know this. But does it actually make you less intelligent?

The Journal of the Royal Society Interface has conducted new research suggesting exactly that. Still wondering how Twitter and Facebook could actually whittle away at your brain?

Well it may not be what you think. It’s not just the fact that the hours you spend scrolling displaces the hours you could spend reading or challenging your brain. No, the problem appears to be the larger issue of people copying each other.

Scientists arrived at this conclusion by creating five artificial forms of social networks populated by volunteers. Some networks tightly connected all their members, making every member in contact with each other. Other networks separated their members more. With this in place, the volunteers received a series of tricky brainteasers. This would test whether or not the more socially connected individuals are more likely answer correctly.

The short term results revealed that the more connected individuals produced more right answers. However, it wasn’t because these individuals were learning, but rather because they were stealing.

Phys.org states, “The researchers found that in well connected networks volunteers… got better at giving the right answer the more times they were asked and the more opportunities they had to steal their neighbours’ answers. This result showed that when the students had lots of connections to peers they could recognize where they had given a wrong answer and swap it for the right one.”

The scientist then tested if these copycats methods improved individuals’ ability to put together correct responses on their own. The results indicated that when quizzed with a new question, the copycats showed they had not improved from their initial performance.

In the end, the results indicated that from a group level, “[being] able to copy from other people in vast networks means analytical responses rapidly spread, fulfilling their promise of improved decision-making for well-connected people,” reports Phys.org.

However, on the individual level, the results aren't as optimistic. Social networking could be harming your intellect. It supplies you with insights and answers without you ever having to think through the problem, which weakens your analytical skills.

While social media does have its benefits, people can also benefit from taking time away from the networks and building up other aspects in their lives. Net Nanny is here to help monitor the time that you do spend online. It can help limit the time your kids spend online and report any dangerous activity. 

To read more about the study, please visit http://time.com/9207/social-media-is-making-you-stupid/