Friday, May 31, 2019

Does social media interfere with teens' intellectual development and brain pruning? Well, not for the best performers, but then there are "average people"



Tim Pool is always tweeting that Twitter is a clickbait-driven cesspool.  EFF’s Elliot Harmon is a little kinder, but says that Facebook is nothing.

Now there is a study reporting that Twitter use has a negative effect on learning and the ability to develop abstract thinking in teens. The Hill (Rachel Frazin) and The Washington Post (Isaac Stanley-Becker) report here.  By the way, the studies don't even like blogging (or reading blogs) or, I guess, watching YouTube. 
    
I personally think that teens who succeed in “real life” activities in school don’t run into this, and teens typically succeed because they learn abstract thinking skills earlier in life.  Overuse of technology earlier in life can definitely be bad, as pediatricians report.


Jack Andraka invented a new pancreatic cancer test in high school and how has Stanford University behind him promoting his career, quite publicly.  He doesn’t need his own video channel.  But he says he has been an avid social media user in the past, although recently his Tweets became less frequent. That probably means something. Taylor Wilson (scientist, not protester) invented a fusion reactor as a teen and now has the career he wants at the University of Nevada in Reno.  Some teens have learned that they can make a living on social media “the right way” (and maybe avoid Logan Paul’s mistakes).  Harvard undergraduate John Fish gets more views at his educational YouTube channel than Tim Pool.  The clue to all of this is learning abstract thinking early in life.  David Hogg (however you feel about his political positions) has accomplished a lot with his activism.  Despite the hype, not all social media is identarian rage bait.

Again, people have to learn layered thinking.  They can get this from positive experiences in the real world.  So too much social media can get in the way.
  
We have a problem in that our competitive society is leaving a lot of “average people” behind, and driving them into identarianism and making them susceptible to manipulation by propaganda in social media and echo chambers. Ironically, the intellectual elites hardly see that this is going on, as the rage bait never shows up in their feeds because of the algorithms.
  
Is David Pakman really going to give up social media, forever? 

Picture: a library in a museum at Stanford (my visit 2018). 

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