An endless amount of information is available instantaneously through the internet and social media. So, is it any wonder that attention spans are shorter now than ever? This excessive use of technology is undoubtedly evident. As Kevin Holesh, an app developer who created the app Moment to track time spent on a smartphone per day, shared a graph of the usage data of eight thousand Moment users. The overall average was 3 hours. Initially, Moment's users thought they only spent roughly ninety minutes a day on their smartphones. However, results showed they averaged a total of three hours. These statistics are truly alarming, mainly because we are looking at eight thousand users and since guidelines suggest that an hour or less should be spent on phones per day. Whereas 88 percent of Holesh’s users were overusing.
Are you able tofocus?
not get distracted?
The average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online.
The growth of smartphones is one of the primary reasons our brains are affected by technology, as they are used by 78 percent of the population compared with just 17 percent in 2008.
Coincidentally, this is the year after the first iPhone was unveiled. On average people are online 24 hours a week, unsurprisingly this is twice as long as ten years ago. There is a significant concern that far too much of our time gets wasted on technology. These statistics emphasise how severe the addiction to technology is. No wonder it is affecting the brain.
The resultant consequence of the overuse of the internet is a reduced capacity for deep thought and continued focus. These changes happened as the brain evolved to respond with exquisite sensitivity… the environment it inhabits. Essentially, the brain adapts to the environment it is in. Therefore, the constant stream of shorter content online is what the mind is becoming accustomed to. Subsequently, the struggle to deep read will become a problem as the brains turn into a simple signal-processing unit when it browses online. The unlimited stream of prompts and notifications from the internet mean that our attention gets divided, which consequently decreases the ability to maintain concentration on a specific task.
Even the average human attention span has shortened as Microsoft Canada found that in 2000, it was an average of twelve seconds long. However, by 2013, it was eight seconds long, and goldfish, by contrast, can go nine seconds.
In this digital age of information overload, there is a perpetual state of interruptions and distractions. These interruptions undoubtedly negatively impact attention spans, and attention gets divided into shorter intervals.
Today it is typical to go from multiple screens and numerous devices. The reason behind this is because multitasking has become so routine, from watching TV while browsing social media to even the extreme case with people driving and texting at the same time. Multitasking is becoming so familiar because changing from one activity to the next activates the brain's award centre. As a result, it is part of an addictive cycle.
Multitasking is frequent amongst young people as in the United States, they average nearly 11 hours' worth of entertainment media every day. This is far from a moderate amount and demonstrates that when people go online, they tend to drop into an ecosystem of interruption technologies. They are falling into a digital hole, where more and more time gets lost. Multitasking is changing the way the human brain works due to the amount of time devoted to media and screens, and internet consumption disrupts our ability to focus.
A professor of communication at Stanford University, Clifford Nass studied the impact of multitasking on the human brain. Nass recognised the effect of the digital era as the New York times called in his 2013 obituary, the increasingly screen saturated, multitasking world. Nass studied those who had been sucked into alluring, intentionally, addictive, and distracting interfaces as he initially speculated back in 2013 something could be happening to their brains. He conducted a media multitasking study to prove his theory that in fact, multitasking may well be destroying concentration as well as creativity.
Nass and his co-workers analysed over 262 university students. They then invited the highest and lowest media multitaskers to carry out some necessary cognitive tests. The results of this study concluded, The heaviest media multitaskers performed worse. Implying that a heavy reliance on social media results in the inability to multitask. They tried searching for what the multitaskers could be better at but did not find anything. Although several could argue they are effective multitaskers, they are only deceiving themselves. Nass's study and other authors prove constant multitasking wastes more time than it saves.
Technology designed today encourages multitasking, which is disconcerting as it disadvantages users in the long term. It is also creating users who will be worse thinking and less able to cope. It is no wonder that phones get checked while working on other tasks. Rather than the extremity of avoiding technology altogether, it is crucial to start monitoring the usage. So, it does not continue to affect brains, concentration, and ability to think deeply.
Michael Mezenich, a neuroscientist, believes there is a massive and unprecedented difference in how their ['Digital Natives'] brains are plastically engaged in life compared with those of average individuals from earlier generations. The brain is adjusting to the environment it inhabits, technology overuse. Sherry Turkle, Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agrees with Nass and believes multitasking degrades performance on everything we try to accomplish. So, it is wasting both time and energy in the long term, as we cannot multitask, but instead, we split our time between tasks. People convince themselves that through multitasking, they are getting more work done.
Turkle argues this is not the case and that multitasking makes us less productive no matter how good it makes us feel.
Hence, it is the opposite of great, especially when considered in the long term as more time gets wasted than used efficiently, and it is a very unproductive way of working.Section 2 🠮 🠬 Introduction
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