Today, it’s the norm to see people with their heads down, pushing their fingers across a bright screen, even while walking or eating a meal with friends. An article in The Independent explores how this screen time is affecting our attention span, the implications over the long run, and how to keep our digital devices from ruling our lives.
An anecdote about dwindling attention spans, from the article:
An eighth-grade teacher tells me that for many years she has had successive classes of students read the same book, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. Her students have loved it—until five years or so ago. “I started to see kids not so excited—even high-achieving groups could not get engaged with it,” she told me. “They say the reading is too hard; the sentences are too complicated; it takes a long time to read a page.”
To combat the onslaught of information overload and incessant screen time, the article’s author tries out Daniel Goleman‘s new audiobook, Cultivating Focus: Techniques for Excellence. While he says it was difficult to not think about thinking during the exercises, the brief experience was beneficial:
But even trying it a few times, and fumbling occasionally towards a moment of true mental rest, I could see how powerful a technique it could be if you trained yourself in it for months or years—and how effectively it could translate to your day-to-day life, providing you with a helpful elasticated tether to bring you away from distraction and back to what matters.
If you’re looking for more ways to cultivate focus, you might want to check out mindful.org/inpractice for a collection of mindfulness exercises, advice, and a chance to get your questions andswered by the Mindful team. You may also want to check out this brief social media mindfulness practice from the December issue of Mindful magazine. It’s designed with teenagers in mind, but it’s valuable for anyone living in today’s digital world.