IQ scores in the US have dropped for the first time in nearly 100 years, new research has indicated.
The researchers set out to find evidence that each generation is smarter than the previous, known as the ‘Flynn effect’ — but they found the opposite.
Scientists from the University of Oregon and Northwestern looked at nearly 400,000 online IQ tests done between 2006 and 2018.
While they did not give the exact drop, they said the biggest decrease was in people aged 18-22 and those less well-educated.
The study was conducted before the pandemic, meaning disruptions to education caused by lockdowns might have worsened it further.
Those aged 18-22 saw the the biggest drop in IQ tests between 2006 and 2018, the study found
The Flynn effect is the notion that IQ scores increase over time, as shown above
Past research suggested one of the reasons could be technology’s increasing dominance over our daily lives, shortening our attention spans and making us less inclined to think deeply.
Some experts argue that leaps in technology mean we have access to more information than ever which increase the opportunities for learning and may make us smarter.
The study was published in the journal Intelligence.
Some skills, such as 3D spatial reasoning tests, showed an uptick from 2011 to 2018.
But skills like verbal reasoning, visual problem solving and numerical series tests had all gone down.
It may be that the results ‘indicate a change of quality or content of education and test-taking skills within’, they wrote in the conclusion.
IQ tests are not a foolproof measure of intelligence and garner criticism because they only look at a few set of skills.
Other studies over the years have demonstrated the Flynn effect may already be in reverse outside of the US.
A study in Finland found that IQs had dropped by two points between 1997 and 2009.
In France, IQ scores decreased by 3.8 IQ points from 1999 to 2009.
Other places including the UK, Norway, Denmark and Australia have discovered similar findings.
Scientists have previously warned that humans may be may be getting worse at thinking because of the internet and social media.
Academic and science presenter professor Jim Al-Khalili said that with so much information ‘coming at us all the time’, we can increasingly cope only with bite-sized chunks of knowledge such as short tweets or two-minute videos.
He told MailOnline in April last year that despite our ‘vastly increased scientific knowledge… the human brain hasn’t got bigger or more efficient or better than it was thousands of years ago’.
He added: ‘Because we are making use of technology these days, one could argue we are getting dumber.
‘Our attention span is shorter, we are not prepared to spend the time to think things through carefully or discuss and debate ideas.’
A previous study suggested that children who spent less than an hour on iPads and other gadgets each day developed better brains than their peers.
Researchers in Illinois found two-year-olds who capped screen time at 60 minutes and engaged in traditional play for at least 15 minutes a day had better executive function than toddlers spent more time on electronics.
They had higher scores than their peers for memory, attention span, decision-making and multi-tasking ability.
It is thought that playing outside or with traditional toys floods the brain with blood, increasing blood vessels and strengthening the neuron connections, allowing children to more easily gain cognitive development.
Staring at electronics, on the other hand, does not stimulate the brain, and is believed to thin the brain’s cortex, which manages critical thinking and reasoning.
Toddlers in the US spend two and a half hours of time watching TV, iPads, mobile phone or video games a day, on average, figures suggest.
In the UK, Ofcom estimates that three-to-four-year-olds spend three hours a day watching screens.
Children’s screen time is thought to have increased significantly during the pandemic when home-schooling and lockdowns became common.
Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.