Twitter Use Decreases Students' Test Scores, So What's It Doing to The Rest of Us?
But new evidence shows that the platform may be inflicting harm at an even more basic level. It could be making its users, well, a bit witless.
The finding by a team of Italian researchers is not necessarily that the crush of hashtags, likes and retweets destroys brain cells; that's a question for neuroscientists, they said.
Rather, the economic reseachers, in a working paper published this month by the economics and finance department at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, found that Twitter not only fails to enhance intellectual attainment but substantially undermines it.
"It's quite detrimental," Gian Paolo Barbetta, a professor of economic policy at the private research university and the paper's lead author, said in an interview with The Washington Post.
"I can't say whether something is changing in the mind, but I can say that something is definitely changing in the behavior and the performance."
To the best of Barbetta's knowledge, his study is the largest and most rigorous examination of Twitter's effect on student achievement, with applications to learning and information retention in other areas of life.
The investigation drew on a sample of roughly 1,500 students attending 70 Italian high schools during the 2016-2017 academic year. Half of the students used Twitter to analyze The Late Mattia Pascal, the 1904 novel by Italian Nobel laureate Luigi Pirandello, which satirizes issues of self-knowledge and self-destruction.