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Are gadgets like the iPad making us dumber?

Ian Brimacombe Ian Brimacombe | 17:25 UK time, Tuesday, 25 May 2010

It's finally here. The eagerly awaited iPad hits shops around the world on Friday.

Apple stores will be open one hour earlier than usual in order to meet the exceptional demand - and give the queuing public a break. Pre-orders have soared and analysts predict sales might hit a million units in under a month.

If you're American, you've heard this all before. The iPad has been been available in the US since early April - and one high profile citizen is not impressed.

During a speech in front of students in Virginia, President Barack Obama said the iPad and similar gadgets are little more than a distraction.

"You are coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter," he said,

"And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and Play Stations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy."

His comments have provoked an online backlash.

Kevin Gamble at High Touch said,

"Telling the next generation to turn off their information appliances and to disengage from their knowledge flows is doing them a disservice. Learning to live in the flow is the new imperative. This is the edge where value is being created. We can only hope those young people at Hampton University were busy reading their feeds on their smart phones, and that they filtered-out the President's bad advice."

But does the President have a point? Author, iPad owner and self confessed techie, Dan Lyons, thinks he does. In an article he wrote for Newsweek, he argues the US is becoming a nation of internet-powered imbeciles.

We'll be looking at the issue Friday on World Update. In the meantime, we'd like to know what you think. Is all this technology making us stupid?

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