The Attention Span Crisis – And What it Means for Kids

Posted On: July 15, 2018
Categories: Blog

You got it, we have a shorter attention span than a goldfish.

The article was released in Time Magazine and since people have been buzzing about it. How could this be possible? How can our intellectually advanced minds be unable to hold attention longer than 8 seconds?

The short answer: Technology.

Technology is the blessing and curse of our society. We are so dependent on technology, we go into a complete panic when we can’t find our phones. Our “connections” have been reduced to social media updates and our lives have become more and more isolated.

It is no surprise the article reported  77% of people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked, “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,” compared with only 10% of those over the age of 65.

So what does this mean for kids?

Kids are growing up in the technology age where in every restaurant, waiting room or car trip, kids are plugged in to some kind of device. They are so plugged in that if you unplug them, a tantrum will ensue.

Many parents have shared their frustration with me on this issue stating that the best disciplinary strategy is to withhold technology but even so, to unplug their kids will create havoc on the home. Parents are stuck. Essentially, we as a society are stuck.

So what do we do?

The first step is to model having moments without technology. Yes, parents this means don’t text and drive. This also means that if the rule is no cell phones at the table, this includes yours. We can understand just how hard this is for our kids whenever we try it ourselves.

The second is to have technology free mornings and evenings. Our brains are most sensitive right when we get up and before we go to bed. If we can start the day without stimulation from technology, we can settle in to our day more relaxed and less reactive.

The third step is to not expect your child to have self-regulation with technology. Children’s brains aren’t fully developed until their in their early 20’s. Yes, that means your child will make life-altering decisions (such as what major to choose in college) before their corpus callosum and pre-frontal cortex are developed. So it’s going to be you that sets the limits, not them.

We’ve lost 4 seconds of attention span in the last 13 years, I am frightened to see what happens next. Technology is not going away but we can adjust our lives to make it not the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to sleep. Try it out at your home and see what happens. Maybe if we all try it, we can gain some seconds back!

 

Have a great week everyone! My new book, “Worry Says What?” will be coming out in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned for details. Also, for additional updates, you can follow me on your social media outlet of choice (don’t worry, I don’t post multiple times a day) and per this article, please don’t check it multiple times a day 🙂

 

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