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The Technology Distraction

The Technology Distraction

Years before the full-scale takeover of technology that now consumes our society and is rewiring the brain function of our youth,  Albert Einstein  remarked that, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”  He may have been referring to the atom bomb at the time, but were he here to witness the distraction media that dominates our lives, he may well have sounded a louder warning.

Recent research from top neuroscientists have confirmed that the combined effects of extensive digital multitasking and the speed of interaction are creating in kids a continuously increasing need for more stimulus with a significantly decreased attention span and ability to focus.  Becoming habituated to constantly switching tasks and being bombarded with multiple media at once impairs the core abilities required in learning to learn.  A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study found that over 50% of students are using other media during their study times some to most of the time.

Worse still is the fact that for many teens and even adults,  the gadgets never turn off.   From the thousands of texts that often run through the night to the computer gaming that fills endless hours, to the fascination turned obsession of Facebook stalking,  our technologies are increasingly something that directs our lives instead of us directing the technology. “Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Rich of Harvard Medical School. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”  Unlike the preceding technology of television, university studies have found that video games and interactive technologies led to both a significant decline in memory and sleep quality.

One teen interviewed in a recent New York Times expose on the subject said: “Facebook is amazing because it feels like you’re doing something and you’re not doing anything. It’s the absence of doing something, but you feel gratified anyway.” He concludes, “My attention span is getting worse.” This distracted brain is changing the course of relationships too. Rarely are teens hanging out together these days and actually focused on the people they are with–video games, texting and Facebook dominate social interaction as much as it does in time alone.

The tendency toward cruelty and insensitivity is higher in digital communications. People will say things to or about others on a Facebook feed that they would never have the nerve to say face to face. A recent hard loss for the Boise State football team turned into a nightmare of social media taunts for the kicker who missed some field goals. As if he wasn’t feeling bad enough already. A recent Seventeen magazine poll said that 1 out of 10 girls was publicly dumped on Facebook.

Learning how to have relationships is a steep curve of communication skills, building trust and expressing intimacy. The added dimension of reported relationship status simultaneously dilutes and complicates the work of learning to relate. Using Facebook’s relationship status as a tool is as bad as text message break ups, maybe worse because then everyone else gets to witness the pain and humiliation of failed relating, often before the people involved.

We need to grow our humanity to catch up to our technology.

Related:
Text Relationships? IDK
Parenting Unplugged: Letting Technology Tune Out Our Children’s Needs

Is Nature Deficit Disorder Real?

Read more: Ask the Loveologist, Children, Do Good, Love, News & Issues, Relationships, Sex, Spirit, , , ,

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

61 comments

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10:25AM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

I have become concerned about the next generation that devote hours a day in isolation,lacking needed human contact. I worry, because the teachers today, have a hard time keeping kids interested in classes unless they present the curriculum in a fun ,fast- paced , visual manner. Kids can't even focus long enough to read a short story.There seems to be a need to constantly entertained.

8:18PM PST on Dec 11, 2010

I don't have cable and people often ask me "how I survive"! Quite well, THANKS. The Internet takes up too much of my time as it is. I recently deleted my Facebook acct so I could spend more time on Care2 because at least I'm signing petitions! When people ask, "Do you text?" I say, 'No." You have to draw a line somewhere.

9:33AM PST on Dec 8, 2010

thanks...something a lot of people need to work on...

6:00PM PST on Dec 6, 2010

Thank you.

7:12PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Agreed! Technology is a doubled-edged sword!

1:29PM PST on Dec 5, 2010

Amen! ..That's what I have to say.


www.maitreya.org

10:05PM PST on Dec 4, 2010

very good article, thanks

7:06PM PST on Dec 4, 2010

I have rules for my lake house ----no cell phones, no MP3 players unless it is used for everyone to listen to music, no electronic games except WII, no lap tops, only movies on the TV and only 1 at night, We have old fashioned game nights, sing alongs, READING time after lunch. Odd the nieces, nephews and their friends fought it at first-----now they enjoy the time at the "NO TECH LAKE HOUSE" (their term for my place) And I now ENJOY them.

3:09PM PST on Dec 4, 2010

My son is a 30-something adult living and working in Manila. He sent his almost monthly message to me on a number not registered in my phone's phone book "Dad, this is my new number'. When I asked why this new SIM, he replied that he had been standing on the elevate railway platform, ear buds firmly in place, when the music cut off, and his phone was missing from his front pocket. simple, of course, the pickpocket followed the cable form his ear to the phone. Why an adult wanted to listen to music in that environment is understandable in an obscure way. A neighbor's son thought he found the solution in a Blue Tooth earpiece set, until someone on the back of a motorcycle snatched that. I told him to 'go fishing' for pickpockets. Sew small triple fish-hooks around the top of a pocket, and run the earphone cord into it on an old jacket. when the 'dip' strikes, quickly lose the jacket and run like hell.

5:36AM PST on Dec 4, 2010

great article!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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