Thanks to the vastness and immediacy of electronic media, we have the world at our fingertips. But are we better informed as a result? “Driven to Distraction: How Electronic Media Are Affecting the Brain and the Implications for Human Resource Development in the Future,” published by Edie Williams of George Washington University on August 10, 2012 in Advances in Developing Human Resources, raises some poignant questions about the way heavy electronic media use is impacting our present and future workforce:
If the millennial generation is so well informed, why are test scores dropping and why are we spending millions of dollars to coax them into math and science programs? Is simply providing employees access to vast amounts of instantly available information a path to maximizing human capital?
Millennials and the generation behind them, the authors explain, “may be experiencing a reduction of their ability to think critically and analytically.” The effects of electronic media on the brain extend to memory, cognitive ability, decision-making skills and more:
The millennial generation actually prefers skimming and scanning to traditional modes of reading. They have been conditioned to skim over greater quantities of often superfluous information but seldom take time to read deeply and fully and digest the meaning of what is being read and then turn that meaning into deliberative, critical thinking.
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