Digital Devices Can Affect Our Ability to Focus

While about 4.5 percent of American adults are estimated to have ADHD, many more of us say we constantly feel scatterbrained, unfocused and unable to remember things.

The ability to focus is a secret element to success that often gets ignored. And yet, there’s probably never been a time in our history when we’ve had as many distractions threatening our ability to pay attention to things.

digitaloverloadWhile today’s computers, tablets and smartphones offer many opportunities to increase learning, they can also be distracting to students. Research shows that if students don’t learn how to concentrate and shut out distractions that come with the use of digital devices, they’ll have a much harder time succeeding in almost every area.

The brain is the last organ of the body to become anatomically mature; it continues to grow until the mid-twenties. Young students need to build up the neural circuitry that focused attention requires. Psychologist Daniel Goleman believes that they need to be able to both use digital devices smartly and have the capacity to concentrate when they need and want to. “The more you can concentrate the better you’ll do on anything,” he says, “because whatever talent you have, you can’t apply it if you are distracted,”

According to Goleman, “The circuitry for paying attention is identical for the circuits for managing distressing emotion. The attentional circuitry needs to have the experience of sustained episodes of concentration — reading the text, understanding and listening to what the teacher is saying — in order to build the mental models that create someone who is well educated.”

He advocates for a daily “digital sabbath”—a period of time when kids are not distracted by devices at all. He’d also like to see schools building exercises that strengthen attention, like mindfulness practices, into the curriculum.

Optiminds offers customized tutoring programs for students, including students who are home schooled. We have earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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