Demanding our time

Study shows increasing smartphones getting more of our attention

How easily are you distrac… SQUIRREL!!! … ah… sorry about that.

There is growing commentary that our addiction to smartphones and various other attention-getting devices is shortening attention spans.

Imagine how challenging that might be for the educational community, who are now competing for their students’ attention with email, texts, Snapchat, what have you.

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Mobile Consumer Survey, the time it takes people to pick up their smart phone in the morning continues to shrink. More than 40 per cent of us check our phones within five minutes of waking.

During the day, we look at our smartphones about 47 times, or 82 times if you are in the 18-24 age group. At the end of the day, about 30 per cent check their devices five minutes before going to sleep — and about 50 per cent check in sometime during their night’s sleep.

Of course, even if you are not checking them, most devices are constantly buzzing and dinging to get us to look at them, regardless of whether it’s a text from a friend you want to hear from or Facebook telling you an acquaintance of an acquaintance just commented on another acquaintance of an acquaintance’s post.

Small wonder then that there’s a movement encouraging people to shut off the push notifications on their smart devices and regain control of their attention.

That may not be the best solution, at least not for the truly addicted, who would simply be forced to check their email program more often, just in case they’re missing something.

But before we throw smart devices in the trash can as a mind-altering technology, we have to ask the question whether the increased flow of information is destroying our ability to think and have real interaction, or is it liberating people who never had this kind of easy access to information before?