Teens, Technology, and Attention Spans

The attention span of a goldfish is eight seconds. In a new study by statistic brain research institute cites that the average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds, over four seconds shorter than 15 years prior.

In those 15 years technology has become more and more accessible. Now people have super computers in their pockets. Which is affecting the way that we live, interact, and pay attention.

This is an issue that is of great concern to many of the teachers of Lakeridge.

“I’m troubled,” said Neil Barker. “Not just among students. But everyone. Just with myself since i’ve gained a smartphone i can notice a difference in my attention span. I find that it’s harder and harder to hold attention to long articles and books. I find that my mind would rather read a top ten attractive women on buzzfeed than read an intensive article.”

“The way students interact inside and out of class has changed a lot just in the last decade. No longer are the days that students have to interact in class. Before students had to find common ground in class because they had no other option of things to pay attention to. but now a student can just take out their smartphone and distract themselves,” said social studies teacher Neil Barker.

Smartphones–and technology in general for that matter, as a distraction tool was a topic that was brought up several times.

“the drastic shift in attention spans may have to deal with the nature of the social media function in social groups and society now. It has become socially acceptable to have a smartphone in hand with other just distracting yourself. I think it is a problem,” social studies teacher Caron Hoppes.

Walking about the halls of Lakeridge the problem of smartphones becomes immediately apparent. Students line the walls in circles. All of them on their phone. Barely paying any attention to their friends, and the conversations that they are supposed to be having. It is rare when one of the students looks up. But even then it isn’t even for eight and a half seconds. It would feel lucky to have it be for more than a couple seconds of a glance. Once that is over it is right back to the phone.

“I ask for phones away because it is a major problem. That is why I am so adamant about taking phones away if a student is using them at all. Technology has transformed everyone into an entertainer. If someone is not then they can’t get others attention. Which is terrible. Kids panic when they don’t have their phones.

It makes them nervous. Even if they’re not nervous they just want the comfort of having it with them,” said science teacher Nancy Caron. “I’ve had kids tell me that they need their phone. There’s this growing mentality that they have to have them. Curiosity has gone away, just being able to Google anything has made things less of a mystery,” said Nancy Caron

The compulsion to look at your phone was an idea that everyone brought up in some manner or another. This is an important idea pertaining to attention spans. Because if a student is sitting in class–maybe even interested, and they have their phone on them. Then that idea of what they are missing out on could be in their head. Compelling them to distract themselves from the reality of the class. Not only is that a problem for classes. But that is a problem for everything.

How is anyone supposed to have a serious and meaningful conversation with no one paying attention?