I’m not on my high horse, okay. I’m part of the ‘we’ in ‘we’re getting dumber’. Also, it’s just a fact, we are not getting more intelligent.
I got the idea for this post when a friend told my husband and I that his six-year-old daughter is the only kid in her grade who can tie her own shoelaces. She can also read above her year level (show off) where many kids struggle just to manage their year level.
The father’s argument is that his daughter is intelligent because, as parents, they seriously restrict screen time. The kids don’t have iPads or phones. They play outside, or board games and read, and are allowed to watch a bit of television at night—that’s it.
Also, this guy’s kids are so chilled out. They’re playful and such, but they are not maniacs. It may be coincidental, but I doubt it.
So, I (ironically) went to Google to see if it really is the internet and social media that are making us dumber.
A few points of interest
I don’t like IQ tests because there are different ways in which a person can be smart—like street smart, etc. However, it’s still a metric.
If I had to guess, humanity’s intelligence (IQ) peaked in about 2010; right before social media really blew up with Instagram and TikTok. Honestly, I don’t care that I sound ancient, but the fact that everyone is stuck to their phones is making us all stupid. More on this later.
Many have stated that we as humans have reached our intellectual peak, and in turn, that it’s all going downhill from here.1 Others have said that the global IQ started to decline in 2020, and they directly linked this to the COVID-19 pandemic.2 Most alarmingly, some argue that we reached our peak intelligence in the mid-1990s.1
Cop out—let’s blame social media
I work at a school and I see first-hand how kids are struggling to concentrate and retain what they have learnt. I can’t help but blame the internet, smartphones and social media, because kids are worse than crack addicts when it comes to social media. Everyone is so distracted and (I’m pretty sure) it’s killing brain cells.
The internet has so much information on it, but we’re not using it to learn, we’re using it to watch filtered butts and influencers.
To add, many parents also have a problem regulating their screen time. Actually, many parents have confessed that they are pretty much online all the time.2 This means that they spend less time actively engaging with their kids, and they themselves are probably getting dumber.
COVID—to blame again
With Covid, we were forced to isolate, and this has had a bad influence on not only our mental and physical health, but social isolation has also led to cognitive decline.2
To be fair
Since IQ tests were introduced, people have been testing better and better over the years. Even if you’re mediocre, you’re probably a lot smarter than the average Joe from a hundred years ago.1 Unfortunately, we have a lot of problems today that didn’t exist a hundred years ago.
It’s worth noting that it’s not like having high IQs has done us any good – just look at the world we live in. But if this is the world of high IQs, I don’t want to know what it will look like with a world of low IQs.
I think it’s more important for people to learn how to be critical thinkers. You shouldn’t take everything at face value. With a world full of scams, filters, and phonies, you have to be critical of everything.
But I digress …
By all accounts, we as humans should be getting smarter. We have the internet with bountiful information on just about anything; modern medicine, and schooling for most people (in first-world countries). Why is this such a problem? Well, there are other possible reasons.
It could be because of unhealthy (innutritious diets), the overconsumption of non-stimulating media, and people not reading as much.3 We can even blame the decline in IQ scores on pollution and the prominence of microplastics.4
Or we can blame the school system and how kids are being taught.5 I know in South Africa the curriculum has been ‘dumbed down’ quite a lot over the years.
What do you think? What (or who) can we blame for the decline in our overall IQ?
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I used these sources: