Twitter makes you dumb, says psychologist

Guildford, England – Facebook users can boost their intelligence, while microbloggers are tweeting their brain cells away, says a Scottish scientist.

Spending time on Facebook can boost what Dr Tracy Alloway of the University of Stirling calls ‘working memory’, while using Twitter or watching videos on YouTube requires little use of memory skills and can have a negative effect on intelligence.

Playing video war games and solving Sudoku puzzles can also stimulate memory skills, says Alloway, who claims working memory is more important to success and happiness than IQ. In an eight week study of children aged between 11 and 14, the performance of slow learners saw a significant improvement in literacy and numeracy skills and IQ ratings when their working memory was stimulated.

”It was a massive effect,” said Alloway, at the British Science Festival at the University of Surrey in Guildford. ”On Twitter you receive an endless stream of information, but it’s also very succinct. You don’t have to process that information and your attention span is being reduced and you’re not engaging your brain and improving nerve connections.”

War games make people use their working memory and keep track of past actions and plan future moves, she claimed, adding that there was evidence linking watching large amounts of TV with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and extensive texting with lower IQ scores.

Sudoku was also good exercise for memory skills, as was keeping track of friends on Facebook, but the instant nature of texting, Tweeting or watching YouTube was not good for stimulating working memory.