Will having a tablet make me stupid?

Yonks ago during lunch I came across Charlie Brooker being quite funny in the Guardian about tablets.

I felt this quite accurately reflected my position on tablets. I just didn’t get the appeal. I had a smart phone upon which I was quite happy checking Facebook and Twitter, looking at the news headlines, playing the occasional game of Angry Birds (until I got frustrated and rage quit, which I do a lot.) Oh yeah, and making phone calls and texting which can be pretty handy. And I have my laptop, which is good for online banking, shopping & work stuff. Between the two of them most of my connectivity issues are covered.

Then there’s my Kindle which means I get to carry around an entire library with me wherever I go. I’m an avid reader and I enjoy all sorts of books, from re-reading classic literature, discovering new novels, and educating myself with a range of non-fiction books. I was bought up believing reading was a mark of intellect. It shows a desire to improve yourself. Even if the double-edged sword of an e-reader is that no-one knows what you are reading. So sometimes I’m reading Liars and Outliers and thinking deep thoughts about how social defection maps onto looking after Terry when he was sick. Other times I’m reading the spin-off books from Castle. (So much fun, but not winning any prizes in the deep-and-meaningful stakes.) But I was told reading is good for you. It expands the brain, and exposes you to new ideas.

As opposed to watching TV, which seems more focussed on entertainment than education. Kids who watch a lot of TV get told they will grow up to be slobs, whereas reading lots as a kid is a sign you’ll end up as a doctor or an economist or something. Reading makes you smart, watching TV makes you stupid.

So I’m slightly concerned that in finally getting a tablet my IQ is going to drop 15 points. Because I have only got it for one reason: I want to watch TV on the train into work each day. My attitude to tablets hasn’t really changed, but the one thing I can really see myself enjoying is working my way though all the TV I’ve never made time for. Is this going to make me stupid?

Now obviously this is all nonsense. TV is just another medium, and watching good quality TV can be just as enriching as a good book, and surely there’s nothing as diminishing to a person as reading the Twilight books. (I read them to make sure they are as appalling as I thought they would be. They are. Now you don’t have to read them. You’re welcome.)

So I’m going see how I get on with my tablet. I’m going to watch the remainder of Dexter Season 4 which I abandoned part way though. And if afterwards I have become too thick to be able to read properly I can always go back to Angry Birds.

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