Photo Gallery Wired Brains

Many scholars and critics warn that TV and the Internet are dumbing us down. But if that's true, why are children around the world performing better on IQ tests? Are we actually getting smarter, or are we merely thinking in different ways?
1 / 5

Many scholars and critics have warned that TV and the Internet are making us dumber. In 1985, American media theorist and critic Neil Postman already said that we are "amusing ourselves to death."

2 / 5

Prominent German psychiatrist Manfred Spitzer has a new book entitled "Digital Dementia," in which he compares teaching children to use online media to serving them beer, and providing computers in elementary schools to heroin dealers getting their users hooked. "Avoid digital media," Spitzer advises. "They truly do make us fat, dumb, aggressive, lonely, sick and unhappy."

3 / 5

This illustration shows increasing IQ test scores in a number of countries.

4 / 5

The fact that people are scoring progressively better on IQ tests, Flynn says, doesn't represent better cognitive skills so much as it expresses a modern, scientifically influenced way of thinking that can better take hypothetical and abstract situations into account. Thinking is "plastic" and adapts to the environment, Flynn adds. From generation to generation, children find it easier to organize symbols, create categories and think abstractly.

Foto: Jens Wolf/ picture alliance / dpa
5 / 5

However, according to Flynn's findings, while young test subjects are particularly good at solving visual and logical tasks quickly, their vocabulary is increasing only minimally. One possible reason for the change is that today's young people read and write many short messages on Facebook and on their cell phones, but they rarely immerse themselves in books.

Foto: A0001 UPI Arthur Sasse/ dpa
Die Wiedergabe wurde unterbrochen.
Speichern Sie Ihre Lieblingsartikel in der persönlichen Merkliste, um sie später zu lesen und einfach wiederzufinden.
Jetzt anmelden
Sie haben noch kein SPIEGEL-Konto? Jetzt registrieren