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It’s the news some people have been waiting for.
Researchers out of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan have finally found a way to prove that using Twitter does not enhance intelligence; if anything, it appears to undermine it.
“It’s quite detrimental … I can’t say whether something is changing in the mind, but I can say that something is definitely changing in the behavior and the performance,” Gian Paola Barbetta, a professor at the University and one of the lead authors on the study, told the Washington Post.
The Italian study found that using the social platform to teach a course such as literature resulted in lower test scores. On standardized tests, scores were reduced up to 40%.
The study claims that Twitter can cause more harm to high-performing students. It also found that teachers who rely on Twitter to teach are getting lazier. This is despite the fact that in Italy, the Twitter-focused teaching method, TwLetteatura (TwL) has already been adopted by nearly 250 schools.
TwL selects a book for students to read, and then creates a unified hashtag for the students to use in order to tweet about the book. TwL also creates a reading schedule for the schools to adopt. The idea is to increase participation, but the research suggests otherwise.
According to Barbetta, the problem is that people will take shortcuts if given the opportunity, and Twitter is that shortcut. Barbetta claims the study method shows two grave mistakes regarding the ways in which students absorbed the information.
The first mistake is the students’ belief that they comprehended the reading simply by tweeting and reading other tweets about it. The second is that the time spent on social media actually ends up replacing the time that could have been spent studying the book.
“A shortcut won’t take you to the destination in this case,” Barbetta said. “It will take you somewhere different.”
Many criticized the study–some commenting that it fails to prove Twitter is the main culprit of eroding intelligence.
So, it causes kids to be distracted and perform worse in school? That isn't about intellect.
— Kylo Ren-Faire (@adamgreeney) May 30, 2019
Twitter is not a good way to conduct rigorous literary analysis and not a good substitute for classroom learning? That’s a shocking conclusion. But who uses it for that?
— Garfield’s Ghost (@Occamsreznor) May 30, 2019
All this shows is people are better at consuming information in pieces rather than in large chunks, which is really evidence that our current method of educating to get kids test-ready vs cognitively engaged is ineffective. Curmudgeons be curmudgeoning. https://t.co/EbLfDNqPGQ
— dr. talia jane (@itsa_talia) May 30, 2019
A spokesperson from Twitter declined to comment on the study, but Twitter never advertised that it enhanced its users’ intelligence. Some people were even able to poke fun at the study.
A new study shows that using Twitter makes you dumber.
I don't get it
— Mike Mentalpause (@mentalpause1) May 30, 2019
Reading on Twitter that Twitter is eroding your intelligence = Inception 2.0 https://t.co/qs6nK6WkBj
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) May 30, 2019
If these were the results for a study on Twitter, one can only wonder what the results for Instagram would be.
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Dominic-Madori Davis is a recent graduate of the University of Southern California. She covers the internet, politics, and social issues.