Despite fueling an age of technological marvels, the Internet is often derided as being as harmful to humanity as it is helpful. But even if a steady diet of cat videos and Facebook posts isn’t a recipe for mental acuity, the Internet really is making the children of today smarter (as compared to their predecessors) in at least four key ways.
Which is not to say that “smarter” is synonymous with “genius.” It might be better to say that today’s children—more than ninety percent of whom will have an online history by age two—are developing key tech-friendly skills at an earlier age. By engaging their brains in more complex tasks at a younger stage in their lives, toddlers are improving cognition and critical review skills, and displaying a more advanced understanding of both virtual and real worlds.
In addition to stronger memory, comprehension, and abstract thought, children who regularly use the Internet also display a more proactive approach to information gathering and experience improved performance in visual learning (e.g., reading comprehension). Language fluency and vocabulary get a boost as well, and some kids even experience a jump in IQ (as high as six points over the course of nine months).
Beyond mental performance, kids and teens using the Internet (and social media) exhibit stronger social skills, better vocabularies, and greater confidence. They may even show greater compassion for others as a result of their experiences on social media sites.
It’s clear that the Internet is having a very real impact on society. And whether it’s making kids smarter or simply more capable in an increasingly electronic world, the Internet will continue to fuel discussions about its impact on children long after today’s wunderkinder have begun raising the geniuses of tomorrow.
This infographic originally appeared here.