The internet is causing us to lose the ability to perform simple tasks.
“Hey, Alexa, turn on the bathroom light… play my favorite music playlist, cook rice in the Instant Pot… read me the news… what’s the weather today…”
“Hey, Siri, set a timer… call my sister… get directions to Los Angeles… what time is it in Tokyo… who stars in that TV show I like…”
While much of the technology is too new to have been thoroughly researched, we rely on the internet for everything from email to seeing who is at our front doors to looking up information, so much so that we forget how to or never learn to complete simple tasks.
In the 2018 election, Virginia state officials learned that young adults in Generation Z wanted to vote by mail but did not know where to buy stamps because they are so used to communicating online rather than via US mail.
We require GPS maps narrated by the voice of a digital assistant to drive across the towns in which we have lived for years.
Nora Newcombe, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Temple University, stated, “GPS devices cause our navigational skills to atrophy, and there’s increasing evidence for it.
The problem is that you don’t see an overview of the area, and where you are in relation to other things. You’re not actively navigating — you’re just listening to the voice.”
Millennials were more likely to use pre-prepared foods, use the internet for recipes, and use a meal delivery service.
They were least likely to know offhand how to prepare lasagna, carve a turkey, or fry chicken, and fewer reported being a “good cook” than Generation X or Baby Boomers, who were less likely to rely on the internet for cooking tasks.
Using the internet to store information we previously would have committed to memory (how to roast a chicken, for example) is “offloading.”
According to Benjamin Storm, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Santa Cruz, “Offloading robs you of the opportunity to develop the long-term knowledge structures that help you make creative connections, have novel insights and deepen your knowledge.”