Kids these days... with their gaming, and their Google

A long AP story today is subtitled, “Expert: Intense use of wired world may weaken fundamental social skills”.

The idea is that kids don’t talk to each other as much anymore, playing games and texting instead. I think that’s pretty much nonsense, except for a small category of boys who would probably have ended up strange anyway. If anything, gaming probably increases these kids’ social world compared to what it would have been 30 years ago.

On the other hand, there is the phenomenon that the internet lets you pick out friends with very similar interests, which arguably makes you less able to interact with people who have different backgrounds and interests. But a far worse offender is the large suburban high school, where very specialized cliques can form and kids rarely have to talk to people outside their social group.

Toward the end, the story broadens to other kinds of learning, some of which are interesting:

Life in the age of Google may even change how we read.
Normally, as a child learns to read, the brain builds pathways that gradually allow for more sophisticated analysis and comprehension, says Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University, author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.

[What is it with these people and Proust?]

She calls that analysis and comprehension deep reading. But that takes time, even if its just a fraction of a second, and todays wired world is all about speed, gathering a lot of superficial information fast.

I like seeing kids reading books, and I suppose that’s one of the big reasons.