The One Where We Problem Solve.

Is it just me, or are the problem solving abilities of the younger generation getting worse?

This isn’t a very optimistic view on my part, but I have wondered for a little while now if the ‘Google’ and ‘iPhone’ generation (which I’m not much older than!) have not developed the problem solving capabilities of earlier generations.

The ability to be able to look up answers to questions or problems at the touch of a button possibly means that we don’t search for and/or contemplate answers as we might have done in the past.

I grew up with a mobile phone, but smart phones, and on hand internet, did not become main stream until I was well into my University degree. Which meant I still had to attend lectures in person and write notes in a notebook with a pen!

At University we are trained in critical thinking, being able to think laterally, outside the box, and to solve some of the world’s biggest problems. That’s the aim anyway. Especially if you do a postgraduate degree, such as a PhD.

PROBLEM SOLVING FLOWCHART809px-Problem-Solving.svg

With the internet and the introduction of smart phones with the ability to search for answers almost immediately I feel there is a link with decreased problem solving skills. I also am not sure if it’s just my expectations of other people’s problem solving skill level which is actually the real issue.

I (ironically) Googled this very issue, which resulted in various editorials with startling headlines; ‘How the internet is making us stupid’; ‘Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?’; ‘Why technology is affecting critical thought in the workplace and how to fix it’. Some say the internet has created an overstimulation of our minds, which distracts us from what we should be doing/remembering.

This is not a new theory or phenomenon. But I guess it has become more salient to me recently when interacting with some younger students. I have continually been surprised by their lack of what I see as problem solving skills, and I have brushed this off as lack of experience and confidence.

I can’t provide an answer, but would love to hear your thoughts and impressions on this theory!

Until next time.



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