Why the Internet is Affecting Ability to Think

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Vanderbilt University
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The internet has provided a platform for research, presenting the opportunity to acquire more insight on different subjects while ensuring that the knowledge base is advanced. However, as this important innovation transforms people's lives, one question begs: is there over dependence on the internet? And does it have an effect on peoples thinking? The internet has affected peoples ability to think.

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It is not in doubt that the internet has made it possible for people to increase their knowledge and productivity. From a business context, the internet has helped in developing goods and services (Shaqiri, 2015). These benefits notwithstanding, confirmed trends demonstrate that increased dependence on the 21st-century digital communication affects peoples originality and thinking ability. According to Johnson (2005), the internet has a negative impact on the way people process and present information. The way people are currently using the internet can impact their ability to think, understand and store information.

Comparing the present generation to the past one, a reduction in the critical thinking can be noticed. Today, people can access the internet with ease. Also, they can find ready answers to problems online and use the information instead of analyzing subjects and using critical thinking. Lehrer (2010) believes that the red flag was raised by Socrates who believed that library was destroying the mind. This anxiety has been perpetuated by the introduction of digital communication. In corroborating this view, Rahwan et al. (2014) established that though people have become smarter via increased internet connectivity, the internet can make them stupider.

This debate has been addressed in different studies. First and foremost, Carr (2010) noted that those distracted by the internet understand less compared to those who can concentrate. Also, people who juggle roles are often less creative and successful as opposed to those undertaking a single task at a go. Furthermore, Carr (2010) submitted that the 21st-century digital communication is affecting originality and thinking. In this regard, people are no longer creators of personal knowledge, rather are online gatherers of information. In so doing, they fail to realize the risk they might be posing to their intellectual lives. Today, people including businessmen are fast embracing the thoughts of others as opposed to creating and presenting their unique ideas. Another concern is that people have become less adventurous due to the internet.

Carr (2010) demonstrated how the 21st-century digital communication is affecting peoples ability to concentrate. As a matter of fact, this translates to scattered thinking where consistent exposure has an adverse effect on the way people are processing and presenting information taken from the internet. There is the need to focus on malleable nature of the brain which means that the brain can change to create new synaptic connections and neural links to gradually transform itself to incorporate information in an efficient manner. According to Olsen (2005), those using the internet on a daily basis have brains that are being changed gradually by these neural connections as a result of constant exposure. When faced with numerous distractions caused by daily use of the internet, the brain must change focus so as to acquire information. This leads to shorter attention spans in a bid to retain large quantities of information it is subjected to.

Carrs (2010) argument is significant in the sense that it focuses on the way distractions caused by the internet can reduce the capacity to retain, analyze and understand information. Moreover, it implies that learning via the internet is less beneficial and effective. Irrespective of peoples expectations, the internet is beneficial to society when considering its impact on intelligence. In the same vein, it has been proven that the internet can boost the intelligence of any society (Johnson, 2005). This is attributed to peoples ability to collect, interpret and process information. The argument here is that the fast paced technological advancement requires that peoples brains change to be more intelligent. This explains the change in intelligence levels throughout the generations. However, Jackson and Obispo (2013) noted that the difference between being smart and intelligent is that being smart would be based on learned applications. The implication is that people should seek to be smarter. A person becomes smart through critical thinking. Moreover, it is achieved through studying and learned material. Though the internet is increasing peoples intelligence levels, it is reducing the learned applications (Elder, 2013).

In conclusion, though the internet has benefited society in different ways, it has affected peoples thinking. Most notable is the fact that though the internet has been associated with increased efficiency in different areas, there are concerns that it can affect attention. As a result, it is a major distraction for businessmen who must think critically. To this effect, further research must be carried to address the subject in a comprehensive and conclusive manner. The purpose of further research would be to incorporate the views from those in support of internet and those against it, so as to have some form of level-headedness.


Carr, N. (2010). How the Internet is making us stupid. The Telegraph, Retrieved from


Elder, A. (2013). College students cell phone use, beliefs, and effects on their learning.

College Student Journal

Jackson, L & Obispo, S. (2013). Is Mobile Technology in the Classroom a Helpful Tool or a

Distraction? A report of university students attitudes, usage practices, and suggestions for policies. The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge, and Society (8).

Johnson, S. (2005). Everything bad is good for you: How today's popular culture is actually

making us smarter, New York: Riverhead.

Lehrer, J. (2010). Our cluttered minds. New York Times. Retrieved from


Olsen, S. (2005). Are we getting smarter or dumber? Brain fitness & brain training. Posit Science.

Rahwan, I., Dmytro, K., & Azim, S. (2014). Is social networking making us stupid? Journal of the Royal Society Interface

Shaqiri, A. (2015). The impact of information technology and the Internet in businesses. Academic

Journal of Business, Administration, Law and Social Sciences 1(1)

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