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‘Point Taken’ Poll Asks: Is Technology ‘Dumbing Down’ Society?

Americans are split over how technology is impacting society as a whole, with 49% of those surveyed saying tech makes individuals less intelligent, and 46% saying technology makes people smarter. And just 51% of Americans say the benefits of technological advances outweigh the risks.

That’s according to the results of a Point Taken-Marist poll, commissioned by WGBH Boston for its late-night PBS debate series Point Taken, hosted by Carlos Watson, cofounder and CEO of OZY Media. The episode tackling the results of the poll will air June 21 at 11 p.m. ET.

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Perhaps surprisingly, the younger the survey respondent, the less likely they are to give technology the benefit of the doubt: Millennials (53%) and Gen X (53%) were more likely than Baby Boomers (48%) and the Silent/Greatest generation (38%) to say technology makes us less intelligent.

“If you think younger people are all in for technological revolution, think again,” said Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, in a statement. “This national survey shows surprising differences among generations and their appreciation for innovation.”

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Gen X (50%) was the most likely to say technological risks outweigh the benefits. Men (55%) and college graduates (58%) were more likely than women (46%) and those without a degree (47%) to say technology’s benefits outweighed the risks.

Nearly three in four Americans said technology improves education, and 54% agreed that it makes individuals more productive. However, 71% said technology is making people less human, and 54% said it makes individuals less connected to friends and family.

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“Digital and other technologies are central and definitional aspects of contemporary life,” said Point Taken series creator Denise DiIanni. “This week our panelists — and audiences — debate whether tech makes us smarter — or dumber."

The survey was conducted in late March and included more than 622 adults.