Growing up in Devon, my younger sister and I would spend a lot of time outdoors. We would explore our overgrown garden, fall down badger holes, get stuck up trees and without a doubt, bring something inside from the wilderness to 'study', be it an odd shaped plant or an unidentified insect. "What is it?" We would ask with eyes full of curiosity, whilst our Mum would look longingly at her newly-cleaned kitchen floor, whilst we continued prodding it with sticks.
Eighteen years on, it is now my niece and nephews who run in those four year old shoes. One afternoon, my nephew once asked me if we could make paper airplanes. I nervously took a piece of paper, feeling the pressure to avoid disappointing his lit up face. He then grabbed my iPhone from the table and exclaimed: 'There is an app for that!' And to my surprise, there actually was. According to my clever and technical nephew, you can in fact download 'The Paper Airplane Guy' from the AppStore to guide you through the process, who even offers levels of difficulty for different planes. I couldn't help but think: where is the fun in that?
Signs of the Internet squashing our ability to wonder and ponder are everywhere. I was at a pub quiz in Soho recently. We were all racking our brains when the Literature round came on. I had just finished a degree in this so my competitive streak was coming out in full force. I was probing deep into the corners of my mind, trying to unravel the things that had been propelled right to the back of my brain three years ago. Which Shakespearean prince's mother was called Gertrude? To my horror, I turned around to see all the other players frantically tapping away on their iPhones and Blackberrys under the table, desperately consulting Mr Google in their time of need. I am no stranger to this, often having had to feed my curious brain at home during a run of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in order to bag £32,000, but to so publically spoil the game was a little unfair.
We can also see the Internet spoiling our fun when it comes to TV. When The X Factor first came onto our screens, we wouldn't hear a peep from the finalists until the live shows, or until they were releasing their debut single. And quite rightly, they should just let us watch the show, before they jump down our throats with their self-promotional marketing strategies. It would be nice to watch the auditions and feel as if we were living alongside them on screen in real-time. Of course it was all pre-recorded, but the fact that these X Factor 'stars' now prematurely invade our Twitter feeds sort of kills the fun. Year on year, as we have seen the growth of social media, other pre-recorded shows such as The Apprentice also insist on introducing us to the personalities behind the screen before we have finished watching. In a flash they are already famous online, with their newly airbrushed pictures uploaded and online followers increasing, when the show is only at the early stages of the competition. From going online, we now know who will probably win and who won't.
I have also started to notice the way in which the Internet is start to affect journalism. The other day, I was discussing with a friend whether the digital age was killing the art of writing. I think it is. One of the best writing tips involves turning off the Internet. How can you splurge ideas onto a page when you have the temptation to search online for other peoples? Journalism is the act of finding out information first-hand; reporting live, reporting from events, reporting from the horse's mouth. Now that we begin to write more and more about internet trends and the online data given to us, are we just going back and forth with opinion pieces? Are we retweeting more than we are tweeting?
The loveliest thing about growing up and learning is to have that youthful inquisitive nature in which you find out things from your family, your friends and most of all, your own experiences. You want to learn why things happen and what happens if when you do it. If we succumb to Google's search engine to be the first location in which we learn, I fear we will start to lose a part of our wonderful wondering minds.
Now that we have the world at our fingertips, are we losing the ability to uncover the hidden mysteries of life for ourselves? And, as a result of this, are our stories becoming less exciting?
Follow Emma Gannon on Twitter: www.twitter.com/emgan