Some weeks ago I was at a meeting at which we had to work out at one point how much 12 pieces of equipment would cost if the price of each was €1,100. The moment the question was asked all the participants except me pulled out their calculators (or calculator apps on their smartphones). I am happy and relieved to report that I had the answer before any of them, without any use of a calculator. I asked the others whether they really didn’t know how to find the answer without electronic assistance. One of them thought (but was not sure) that he could have done it in his head, while the other nine people present all said they couldn’t work it out unaided.
But it is not just that too many people today cannot do elementary tasks without a computer or electronic device. Research conducted in the University of Maryland has just revealed that, once deprived of their gadgets, many people now show clear withdrawal symptoms indicating an addiction. Gadgets perform basic tasks for us and provide us with our main forms of communication. As some readers know, I am myself a committed gadget fanatic, but I try to ensure that they never take over my life. They cannot answer and address all the issues that we encounter.
As gadget ownership sweeps across the world of young adults and children, it is important not to let them lose more traditional computational skills. Not every calculation should require a calculator, just as not every message needs to be delivered electronically.