The intelligence war – twitter vs facebook

Is Twitter bad for your intelligence? It could be if psychologist Dr Tracy Alloway is to be believed. She claims that working memory, which involves remembering and using information, is more important to success than IQ and things like Twitter could actually be damaging to it because of its ‘instant’ nature. She said, ”On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct. You don’t have to process that information. Your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.” Facebook on the other hand is believed to be beneficial to working memory, like sudoku and brain training, as it’s more of a dialogue and involves building connections.

However, don’t stop tweeting just yet. The Times isn’t convinced and reports that during the press conference in which she announced this news, Dr Alloway admitted when questioned that this theory is at the moment just that, a hypothesis that she hasn’t started researching yet. Times blogger Mark Henderson says “Most people I know who use Twitter see it as an interactive tool for conversing with wide groups, and for drawing like-minded people’s attention to information that might interest them. It’s interactive, full of links, and information-rich. It’s a misconception that the 140-character limit makes depth impossible. In fact, to me, Twitter seems to build social networks just as effectively as Facebook.”

What do you think? I tend to agree that Twitter is very interactive although I can see that in some cases how it could be seen to have a negative effect on working memory. Either way, I won’t stop tweeting just yet – but will maybe keep on doing sudoku too just in case!

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