Actually, Boomers, Technology Is NOT Making Us The 'Dumbest Generation'

Actually, Boomers, Technology Is NOT Making Us The 'Dumbest Generation'

To those that argue that technology is ruining the minds of modern young people, you could not be further from the truth.

It's incredibly frustrating to constantly hear adults saying things like, "Technology is making kids stupid." Are there kids that may be better off spending less time on phones and TV? Sure, but the same could be said for adults. Modern-day youth are far from “dumb” because of technology. If anything, technology expands young people’s intellectual capacities and increases their potential to do amazing things. So, I took personal offense when I found out that critics like Mark Bauerlein, who wrote “The Dumbest Generation,” argue that “the advantages [of more technology] don’t show up in intellectual outcomes,” and the “mental equipment” of younger generations is sorely lacking.

First of all, the actual definition of the word “intelligence” depends on the context and a variety of other factors. Bauerlein seems to focus on the fact that young people know comparatively “less” than previous generations. As journalist Sharon Begley points out, Bauerlein does have a point in terms of intelligence defined as “holding the most knowledge.”

However, I dislike this idea that one person may be more intelligent than another simply because they know all 44 presidents or can name the capitals of all 196 countries. That may have been relevant when Bauerlein was younger, but my generation shouldn't need to spend effort memorizing trivial information like the aforementioned if it's a Google search away. Instead, young people are exploring their own unique brands of intelligence.

Another thing people complain about all the time is video games. From a productivity standpoint, I completely understand. Yet most critics of video games seem to be influenced by the “cliché that [video games] are about improving hand-eye coordination and firing virtual weapons." As is true of many stereotypes, these supposed traits of are only representative of a small number of video games. As science author Steven Johnson says, “the majority of video games on the best-seller list contain no more bloodshed than a game of Risk.” The most popular games challenge mental dexterity just as much as, if not more so than, they challenge manual dexterity. This, and the fact that most players choose to “feel their way” through a game rather than reading a manual or walk-through, contribute to the increasing reliance of video games on what Johnson calls “competence principle.” Video games do not make young people stupid. In fact, modern video games rely on the aforementioned competence principle in order to add depth, complexity, and value to the gaming experience. The most highly rated games are far from what anyone would call ‘simple.’

Minecraft,” for example, is a popular adventure game that initially puts a player in an outdoor environment. Its simplistic graphics belie its true nature. Players must be constantly aware of their surroundings, adaptable to sudden changes in the environment and willing to take risks and explore if they want their character to survive. More experienced players have typically learned to plan accordingly for the future, and apply real-world principles and techniques such as physics, architecture and coding to create complex environments. This is the competence principle in its purest form. Players can’t get involved or invested in a game that can be completed in less than five minutes, so video games require an increasing degree of competence and adaptive mental capacity in order for a player to be successful.

People who call out technology as idiot-inducing ignore the fact that tech is a toy and a tool. My biotechnology class at Paulding County High School is a perfect example of this. As the name of the course may suggest, student research and experiments in the class are dependent on technology. Students who take the course must understand to some degree the complex processes that their tools undergo. With this technology, students isolate genes in microscopic animals, study mutations in C. elegans, observe yeast’s effects on various saccharides and map out the genome for E. coli. Between hunting for water bears and collecting data from bird boxes, the class is definitely a blast. Students enjoy what they’re doing. With this technology, students revolutionize the world of science at their school, and develop the potential to change the lives of millions of people.

Technology isn’t dampening the intelligence of younger people; it’s enhancing them. Yes, the degree of straight up memorization is not as high as that of previous generations, but that’s only because technology has made it so that young people can spend mental effort on more important things. Yes, video games can change how a young person thinks, but more often than not, it’s for the better and with skills that are nothing but valuable. And yes, a good portion of today's youth could afford to spend less time on their phone and more time outside, but honestly? The modern young generation’s access to technology is critical if the world is ever to continue to grow and expand in new ways. Older generations tend to be uninformed about the “latest tech,” but young people are more connected and involved with technology than anyone in the past has ever seen.

We’re anything but the “dumbest generation." We’re the generation that’s going to change the world.

Cover Image Credit: Zainab Thompson

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Not All Video Gamers Are Introverts Who Refuse To Recognize The Real World

Some of my best friendships manifested through gaming.

If someone was to tell you about an activity that involves a dedicated community as well as other aspects including teamwork, communication, and practice, your mind would automatically convince you that the activity being discussed is something along the line of sports.

Of course, these characterizations do describe the necessary components to be successful in an activity like a sports, but they also describe something else that can often have a bad reputation but is certainly underrated – video games.

As children, our parents insisted that video games promoted laziness, loneliness, and in some cases could even lead to violent behavior. Many people that play video games are often stereotyped as introverted individuals unable to connect with the outside world.

Being one who has played numerous games for the majority of my life, this is simply not the case.

I began playing video games around the time that I received my first PlayStation 1 in elementary school. These games, now basically unplayable with the implementation of improved graphic display and enhanced response time, consisted of Crash Bandicoot and Pong that I often played with my sister and neighborhood friends.

A few years later with the PlayStation 2, I became a member of a band that consisted of a few of my best friends, my sister, and my mother. The games were Rockband and Guitar Hero that brought us all together each weekend to hone in on our talents.

The most influential piece of technology during my youth was no other than the Xbox 360. The platform it provided was Xbox Live, a way to communicate with others also playing Xbox as well as the ability to have private parties where friends could come together and chat using a headset.

From around seventh grade to the middle of high school, some of the best friends I will ever have were made through experiences on this console playing a number of games including Call of Duty and FIFA.

Around this same time, I became addicted to a new and flourishing concept on YouTube – livestreaming video games. The concept was enormously enhanced and gained popularity with the help of a man named Felix Kjellberg, better known as his online alias Pewdiepie.

Every night, I laid in bed and watched the games he played that seemed to bring me almost more joy than playing the games myself which was also evident by the community that he was able to establish.

Although his YouTube channel is no longer based off of solely gaming, he still remains a controversial public figure on the internet amassing 60 million subscribers on YouTube, an accomplishment no other has even come close to reaching.

In the first paragraph, I discussed characterization including teamwork and practice and how this applies to video games similar to the way it applies to sports. This comes from the now burgeoning gaming league known as eSports. Similar to organized sports such as basketball or soccer, eSports gives serious gamers the opportunity to showcase their talents in competitive video games from first-person shooters such as Call of Duty to battle arena games such as League of Legends or Dota.

Taking up much of the questionnaire surrounding the eSports community is how much money a player or team makes upon winning a tournament or online league and the answer can be up to millions.

This concept of competitive gamers making this much money is often under fire as people can’t seem to grasp the idea of people making money from simply playing video games. One of the main advocates for competitive gaming comes from a member of the Boston Celtics NBA team named Gordon Hayward who began playing games competitively around the same time he began to be recruited for college basketball. He even went on Collin Cowherd to help eliminate the stereotype of professional gamers as they are often perceived.

It isn’t difficult to understand. If a person is great at something, whether it be sports, acting, managing, or even video games, why shouldn’t they be paid for it? The perception that a gamer is one that sits alone in their room to isolate themselves from the outside world is preposterous in almost every case and is a stereotype that I hope is eliminated. Video games have created communities for many that have felt out of place with similar interests as well as provided a platform for many to make a living out of.

Some of my best friendships manifested through gaming, and this is the case for millions of others.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram | @geeksandgamer

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Why Is GoPro So Special?

New Technology

Nick Woodman, the founder and inventor of GoPro launched the revolutionary company back in 2002. Just 12 years later, GoPro will be filing for an IPO worth around $100 million.

What makes GoPro so special and why are the implications so significant?

For those unfamiliar with GoPro Cameras, they are small headphones that can be held using a camera pod or strapped to your helmet. Adventure enthusiasts, tourists, and casual people are all fans.

In fact, there are countless similarities between Apple’s iPod and GoPro’s cameras. Both were revolutionary instruments, simple products, and loved by casual and professional users. This seems to be the ingredient for a successful technology, consumer-based product these days.

In general, GoPro’s unique hook comes from its simple build. The micro-cameras are convenient and functionally addictive. Not only that, but everyone’s using them, and there is nothing like real product validation when your consumers are advocating your product through the vast universe of social media.

Social networking has only increased the universal nature of panoramic, landscape, and self-imposed images. Moreover, elementary school children and even senior citizens often use social platforms to publically display images to their social networks. This only allows the rapid popularity of the company to further rise among all demographics.

But is the price justified?

On paper, it all seems to make sense. According to GoPro’s S-1 documents with the SEC, 2013 revenue was $985.7M, which is roughly an 87% improvement from the year prior. Their financial growth is extremely impressive and they are already making roughly 4 million units this year.

As such, the $100M IPO seems reasonable, considering that most technology and consumer groups who have gone public near this selling range are not nearly as profitable. Keep in mind that most companies who sell at this range are in debt and do not have profitable net income. Investors are mainly focusing on the potential and expected growth of the company. In a sense, it is a huge risk to invest in those types of companies. However, GoPro seems to be much different and other investors, such as Redbull, agree that this is a company worth watching.

Cover Image Credit: PBS

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