The Dumbest Generation?

The era of the post-millennial generation is known as the 21st century, or Generation Z. This generation was born into a digital world, where high technology began to dominate and become the foundation for many people. Becoming the first of dramatic changes in history from low technology to high technology everywhere, low technology consists of books and pencils meanwhile high technology consists of computers, the internet, etc. Since this generation has grown up with higher technology, they are provided with many opportunities that make their lives easier compared to generations before. Such as becoming an effective communicator, a critical thinker, and a creative innovator. Whereas, Generation Y, also known as the era of millennials, grew up in the beginning stages of the digital age. Yet according to Mark Bauerlein, those under 30 are considered as the “dumbest” generation in modern history due to reading habits slipping as well as a lack of general knowledge. This constitutes Generations Y and Z as part of the “dumbest” generation. Although these generations are considered to be the “dumbest” by others, Generations Y and Z are actually the most advanced and intelligent generations due to the use of higher technology that has provided them with many opportunities to better themselves.

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Everyone has their own criteria of what is considered “dumb” whether its being able to retain general knowledge or lacking the skills to think critically. People also have their views on somebody being considered “smart” as well. You may think someone is smart due to their abilities to solve a complicated math problem within a minute, while someone else considers a person smart because they gave out good advice. According to Bauerlein, being dumb means lacking general knowledge and not reading consistently. So does this mean to Bauerlein believe being smart means having a lot of general knowledge and reading consistently? But what about having the ability to think logically and critically in order to analyze an argument, to learn and remember, to see analogies, and to distinguish fact from an opinion? These are skills that are applied to those who are considered smart and these are skills that Generations Y and Z hold. Sharon Begley provides evidence of the intelligence of Generations Y and Z through IQ scores from countries that measure IQ. She states that these scores “have been rising since the 1930s” and that these tests measure pure thinking capacity rather than knowledge. With the upcoming of new technologies, new media is provided as well and has become some of the biggest platforms that society uses today, especially by Generations Y and Z. Mizuko Ito Et Al provides a study about the effects of digital media on young people and reveals that “New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting.” This is something that can be seen through teens sharing their creations and receiving feedback from others online and also being able to geek out online with others. Since a majority of the people in Generations Y and Z receive these effects, it improves their thinking rather than making them more dumb.

As new innovations of technology enters our society, the blame for a new generation’s shortage of intelligence is continuously pinned onto these new creations. Although, there has been no proven evidence that show being immersed in technology impairs your thinking capabilities. Sharon Begley cites “‘The jury is still out on whether these technologies are positive or negative’ for cognition” from Ken Kosik of the University of California, Santa Barbara, co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute there. With people continuously deciding on whether technology leaves a positive or negative effect on our thinking, the idea of blaming technology is out of the question since there’s no strong support. In fact, scientists are supporting the idea that our minds are improving immensely because of our technology, thus making us smarter than we were before. “We are gradually changing from a nation of callused hands to a nation of agile brains,” says cognitive scientist Marcel Just of Carnegie Mellon University. “Insofar as new information technology exercises our minds and provides more information, it has be improving thinking ability”. If our minds continue to improve, that shows that we are becoming more intelligent rather than “dumb”.

Technology has become a huge part in our day to day lives especially in Generations Y and Z, whether it be from waking us up in the morning or holding important phone calls needed. In children’s lives, this would come in the form of video-games. The stereotype of gamers is since they play games so much, they become more violent and “dumb” due to the amount of violence and how easy it is to do things in the game, leading to their skills decreasing. This stereotype is actually false. By playing video games a unique way to learn and better your skills is formed. Steve Johnson provides an example in his article “Your Brain on Video Games” by bringing up the best-selling game of all time, The Sims. This game involves the player to manage “a household of characters, each endowed with distinct drives and personality traits, each cycling through gan endless series of short-term needs (companionship, say, or food), each enmeshed in a network of relationships with other characters.” By being able to handle all those tasks throughout the game, a player develops better multi-tasking skills, which helps increases their intelligence since they’re able to learn how to manage time as well as other tasks simultaneously. Other games like Grand Theft Auto also provide players with the skills of being strategic in order to win certain levels, allowing them to critically think and in a way, become smarter.

With society adapting to the new innovations of technologies being introduced like the IPhone X or a Macbook Pro, comes with the notion of moving on from our past. This would mean leaving behind books since we now have the ability to read online since it is more accessible or going to school online since it is more convenient. Roz Chast demonstrates this in his cartoon “Shelved” where a man, who is supposed to be representing our society, is surrounded by books while he is seen sitting on a chair with his laptop which represents our past. The books that surround the man look shocked at him. Why are these books shocked? They’re shocked because it displays how society is moving on from the past and onto better and new improvements in the future. With these new and better improvements being provided onto our new generations, we have become more active since things have become easier to access for us. Since we have social media at the tip of our hands that allow us to create our own posts easily and people write on a daily basis. This is a huge improvement compared to the past, where people would need to borrow a typewriter in order to type something or where writing would take a large portion of our time. Clive Thompson cites “…that young people today write far more than any generation before them….because so much socializing takes place online, and it almost always involve text.” from Andrea Lunsford, a professor of writing and rhetoric at Stanford University. This implies that technology allows many people to express our creativity and thoughts faster since it is extremely accessible. With technology giving us that ability we are able to come up with ideas even faster it shows that we are even smarter than generations before.

Although Generations Y and Z are considered to be the “dumbest” by others, they are actually the most advanced and intelligent generations because of the higher technology that provide them with many opportunities. Since our generations are smart, it means that our future will turn out very successful and better than it is right now. We’ll be able to create new innovations that benefit our society and lead to something making history, like being able to live on Mars with man-made creations. We’ll be able to make our planet a better place with our intelligence and advancement. To be calling these generations the “dumbest” is a major understatement.     

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The Dumbest Generation?. (2021, Jun 30). Retrieved September 25, 2022 , from
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