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(Twenty-minute read)

I watching a TV programme the other night and during the Ads I overheard a promotion by you know who promoting the iPad as the new pacifier for babies and toddlers.

Unbeknownst to most of us, an invisible, game-changing transformation links everyone in this picture: The neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing – a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult.

Is technology makes us weaker socially, physically, and mentally lazier?

Is the digital age making our minds weaker and deep thinking impossible?

How many hours do you spend hopelessly scrolling on the internet?

There is not a handful of societies that are, slowly and painfully, evolving institutions and behaviours that allow people to escape these ills on a broad front and if we continue to rely on technology, we will reverse all the progress we have worked so hard to achieve.

The answer to the above is in how we use technology by understanding all of the ethical implications technology can have- the ethical dilemmas of automation and surveillance are only beginning to surface.

Across the free world, the rise of populism and the decline of open debate is stressing our traditional democratic and societal institutions.

With every new release of technology, we become less physically active and more reliant on a screen, fearing that one day we will be the space humans in Wall-E who hover around on chairs, the epitome of laziness.

So anyone hoping to improve their mind both psychologically and cognitively might want to think about taking up the habit of regular reading.

Books can take you anywhere you want to go, exposing you to so many wonderful things.

When you are reading, you are focusing on and concentrating on one thing. You are using your memory muscle.

Technology cannot (yet) harm anyone by itself but it is worsening our ability to socialize directly with other people.

Who really wins and who loses before the Information Age has truly “come of age.”

In this “revolution” of information delivery, what is happening?

Poverty, disease, ignorance and intolerance, and inequality are humanity’s default condition.

Reading to your children helps build a bond and open up communication. It is another way of showing them, love. Your child’s language skills and literacy depend on you talking and reading to them.

Digital delivery is truly revolutionizing how we get our information but not how to decipher it.

In short, the reader is turning to the Internet with Skim reading.

The result is to scatter our attention and diffuse our concentration. This trend is likely to continue for decades to come.

In the end, it should not be a surprise that so many cannot make it through three or four paragraphs before turning their attention to something else.

It is not just the Internet itself causing this shift in our behaviour. It is modern technology—computers, smartphones, software, etc.

In the name of efficiency, human beings are losing their ability to set aside hours to simply read without distraction.

Until the last century, no one ever spent one minute in front of a television, computer or on a smartphone or iPad. Back then People had time to mentally digest—to think and analyze.

These days when one attempts to read a long article or book there is an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with your brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory.

What will be the long-term effects of such social behaviour?

What will happen to the children and teenagers of today who have even fewer occasions to read and think?

Will a large enough foundation be built for our children to make correct decisions?

What about your future?

Deep reading processes may be under threat as we move into digital-based modes of reading.

We don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or

to perceive beauty.

Skim reading is a new normal and the effects on society are profound.

Set aside time to think and read and you will be investing in your future.

We need a new literacy for the digital age.

This is not a simple, binary issue of print vs digital reading and technological innovation.

It is about how we all have begun to read on any medium and how that changes not only what we read, but also the purposes for why we read.

A great deal hangs on it:

The ability of citizens in a vibrant democracy to try on other perspectives and discern the truth; The capacity of our children and grandchildren to appreciate and create beauty; and the ability in ourselves to go beyond our present glut of information to reach the knowledge and wisdom necessary to sustain a good society.

In this hinge moment between print and digital cultures, society needs to confront what is diminishing in the expert reading circuit, what our children and older students are not developing, and what we can do about it.

The potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth.

The whole point of technology is a convenience, not a dumbing down.

All human comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.

Footnote: In order to have your blog read it appears that if it does not have a read time it is just skimmed.