Distractions of Youth
Otago University intelligence researcher professor James Flynn is the author of a study published online by the journal Economics and Human Biology which looks at how British teenagers’ cognitive skills have changed over a 28-year period. Tests carried out in 1980 and again in 2008 show that the IQ score of an average 14-year-old dropped by more than two points over the period. Flynn believes the abnormal drop in British teenage IQ could be due to youth culture having “stagnated” or even dumbed down. The trend marks an abrupt reversal of the so-called “Flynn effect” which has seen IQ scores rise year on year, among all age groups, in most industrialised countries throughout the past century. After the ages of nine and ten Flynn says: “Children become more autonomous and they gravitate to peer groups that set the cognitive environment. What we know is that youth culture is more visually orientated around computer games than they are in terms of reading and holding conversations.” Originally from Chicago, Flynn arrived in New Zealand in 1963.