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March 30, 2006
Just An Opinion

I've seen a lot of stories about this in the last couple of days.

Of course, I've also read about fifty other articles on how we're all not getting enough sleep in the last ten or twenty years, so it worries me less as a stand-alone story than in combination with other things.

For instance, it's also possible that that the over-stimulation of kids' simultaneous ipod-cell phone-computer chat lifestyles are actually affecting how their brains work, and in a worrying way.

Decades of research (not to mention common sense) indicate that the quality of one's output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks. Some are concerned about the disappearance of mental downtime to relax and reflect. Roberts notes Stanford students "can't go the few minutes between their 10 o'clock and 11 o'clock classes without talking on their cell phones. It seems to me that there's almost a discomfort with not being stimulated--a kind of 'I can't stand the silence.'"

Ponder that for a moment. A generation where anyone not pretending they can do four things simultaneously is hopelessly behind. And where there are people who don't know how to function without two or three kinds of simultaneous stimulation at all times.

The damage this kids are doing to their long-term cognitive abilities could be serious.

Because, regardless of what a ten year-old tells his mother, she should actually know that no he can't actually do his homework and learn the material if he's squeezing it in between web-surfing, music funneling into his brain through earphones, and five simultaneous IM conversations. Plus which, it's just lousy training for life.

What's he going to do when he's 25 and having to sit in a two-hour client meeting? Fall asleep because he's under-stimulated? Ask for breaks every 15 minutes because he's never focused on any one thing for longer than that in his life? Get fired when they realize he's not taking notes...he's IMing with his girlfriend about their date that night and his best friend about the game last weekend, and watching a move scroll past onscreen?

What's he going to do when he's 25 and he has to spend an hour walking a colicky baby around the house at 2:00 a.m.? This is not an occupation that lends itself to multi-tasking.

Sometimes I wonder if we're overstretching our monkey-brains to a ridiculous extent. I mean, in what kind of world would processing information a split-second slower than others create as a disability?


I'm proud of me. Are you proud of me? I didn't even hint at a connection to a population that, while preeening itself on its sophistication, seems to be becoming ever-more simple-minded and incapable of logical thought, resulting in a massive and inexplicable gullibility when it comes to elected leaders.

(I might have indulged in such a digression, but I'm at work and my lunch break is now over. Ponder the idea, though.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:35 PM