Do we need any more research confirming that we are VERY distracted As a culture? Do we need more experts warning us about the danger of being constantly wired? Do we actually need someone to tell us that being distracted hinders students from learning?
I am convinced that we need to hear more about this for several reasons. First, the situation isn’t getting any better. Mobile devices are now universal, especially for the younger generation. But gradually older folks are jumping on board. There is no turning back.
Second, the longer we live with connected devices, social media, mobile phones, etc. the more “normal” our distracted state becomes. We become numb to the side effects, and even forget that an undistracted life is possible.
Third, this much distraction is bad for us. The longer we study this subject the more we realize that distraction is hurting our brains, our relationships, and our joie de vivre.
Here is what Larry Rosen has to say:
“Recently my research team observed 263 middle school, high school and university students studying for a mere 15 minutes in their homes. We were interested in whether students could maintain focus and, if not, what might be distracting them. Every minute we noted exactly what they were doing, whether they were studying, if they were texting or listening to music or watching television in the background, and if they had a computer screen in front of them and what websites were being visited.
“The results were startling considering that the students knew we were watching them and most likely assumed we were observing how well they were able to study. First, these students were only able to stay on task for an average of three to five minutes before losing their focus. Universally, their distractions came from technology, including: (1) having more devices available in their studying environment such as iPods, laptops and smartphones; (2) texting; and (3) accessing Facebook…
“So, what was going on with these students? We have asked thousands of students this exact question and they tell us that when alerted by a beep, a vibration, or a flashing image they feel compelled or drawn to attend to that stimulus. However, they also tell us that even without the sensory intrusions they are constantly being distracted internally by thoughts such as, “I wonder if anyone commented on my Facebook post” or “I wonder if my friend responded to the text message I sent five minutes ago” or even “I wonder what interesting new YouTube videos my friends have liked.” Three-fourths of teens and young adults check their devices every 15 minutes or less and if not allowed to do so get highly anxious. And anxiety inhibits learning.” (emphasis mine)