Daniel Willingham is writing again. Some time ago the cognitive psychologist announced a blogging sabbatical but now he published short reviews of five books and this OpEd in the NY Times on smartphones allegedly making us dumber. He explains this is not the case (or rather that we don’t have much evidence for it).
His conclusion is both reassuring and a warning:
Digital devices are not eating away at our brains. They are, however, luring us toward near constant outwardly directed thought, a situation that’s probably unique in human experience. A flat cap on time with devices — the restriction we first think of for ourselves and our kids — might help. So would parking devices in another room for a while. But it would be more effective if we could learn to recognize in ourselves when escape from our thoughts is O.K. and when reflection is in order. As a bonus, judgments like that require inwardly directed attention, a mental habit that in our smartphone era, we’d be dumb to lose.