If you wish to read scholarly answers to this question you will find them at edge.org.
To save you time, here are three excerpts:
The Canadian Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, the author of How the Mind Works, named by Time magazine in 2004 as one of the hundred most influential men in the world, writes:
“The new media have caught on for a reason. Knowledge is increasing exponentially; human brainpower and waking hours are not. Fortunately, the Internet and information technologies are helping us manage, search and retrieve our collective intellectual output at different scales, from Twitter and previews to e-books and online encyclopedias. Far from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart.”
Nicholas Carr, the American author of the 2008 Wall Street Journal bestseller The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google, is an Internet-skeptic:
“Given that the average American now spends 8.5 hours a day peering at screens, it seems likely that we’re narrowing the scope of our intellectual experiences. We’re training ourselves, through repetition, to be facile skimmers and message-processors – important skills, no doubt – but, perpetually distracted, we’re not learning the quieter, more attentive modes of thought: contemplation, reflection, introspection, deep reading.”
Evgeny Morozov, a contributing editor to Foreign Policy, has an answer to both:
“Pinker, I fear, falls into the same conceptual trap as Carr, i.e., he sets to measure the Internet against the printing press, the comic book, and television. However, by viewing the Internet as just another medium, both Carr and Pinker end up significantly downplaying its importance.
“The Internet is not just another medium. Rather, it’s a full-blown brand-new dimension to human affairs – and it is poised to profoundly affect all other dimensions. The proper analogy, thus, is not to the newspaper or the telegraph, but to religion and nationalism. However, just like one could not assess the overall impact of religion by looking at the rates of dissemination of religious literature, one cannot assess the impact of the Internet by looking at such a narrow slice of its impact as the consumption of information by its users. Just as with religion or nationalism, there is absolutely no guarantee that the vector of social change unleashed by the Internet would be either positive or negative; most certainly, it will be both – so the sooner we find a way to diagnose and minimize its negative effects, the better.”