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Is Technology Making Students’ Attention Spans Shorter?

There are numerous factors influencing a person attention span and it is not certain that technology is entirely to blame. Studies have reached conflicting conclusions in response to this question. It is claimed that over-reliance on technology has shortened our attention span from 12 minutes to 5 minutes.

Students have spent more time online this year than ever before, from online lectures and seminars to online society socials and catching up with friends over lockdown. Constant digital stimulation is one of the primary reasons why students’ attention spans are short. Every time they get a notification on their phone or see an update on social media, their attention is drawn away from what they should be concentrating on. But with revision and exam season approaching, do studies show that using technology reduces our attention span significantly? 

“Our brains have been trained to expect almost instant results and therefore dependent on the actions of others”

Cr: Shutter Stock

There are some simple measures which can help:

1. Pay attention to your screen time


You can make a personal decision on whether any changes need to be made, and then you can set realistic, measurable targets.

  • Students can use various techniques to focus their attention, such as focussing on one task at a time and breaking down tasks into smaller goals.
  • Helping students learn how to manage their stress levels, as high levels of stress can also lead to difficulty paying attention. Meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling are great ways to help reduce stress.
  • Studies have shown that listening to certain types of music can help improve focus and concentration. The kind of music is crucial.

2. A Social Media Detox


A typical solution, but one which could genuinely have a positive impact. Simply switch your phone off for a couple of hours and substitute the time you would have spent in front of the screen with alternative activities that may prove to be more enriching.

  • If students show signs of restlessness or fatigue, brain breaks where students learn for 30 minutes and then take a break means learning is more effective for longer.
  • Moving around or doing brain-teaser activities helps to re-engage their minds. Making sure students are getting enough downtime away from screens, exercising, and engaging in other active pursuits can help them focus.
  • Physical activity can help improve focus and concentration, so encourage students to take breaks throughout the day and explain the importance of ‘aerating’ the brain.
  • Take a few minutes each day to do something that is unrelated to work or school, such as reading for pleasure, spending time in nature, or listening to music. This will help refresh and rejuvenate the brain.
Cr; Freepik

3. Allocating times to for your “free time”


Rather than scrolling on your screen for an uncontrolled number of hours, save time by allocating certain times during the day when you can use social media as you please.

  • Students can use various techniques to focus their attention, such as focussing on one task at a time and breaking down tasks into smaller goals.
  • Helping students learn how to manage their stress levels, as high levels of stress can also lead to difficulty paying attention. Meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling are great ways to help reduce stress.
  • Studies have shown that listening to certain types of music can help improve focus and concentration. The kind of music is crucial.

Watch longer videos or read longer posts


By doing this, you will be able to persevere when engaging with content that takes a longer time to digest. Therefore, you will get used to focusing on a particular piece for a longer period of time.

  • Microlearning , which may include blogs, games, quizzes, podcasts, simulations and videos, is an e-learning format. With Pandai, it is more effective and convenient and enables students to control their time and learning experience.
  • Learning at school should avoid rambling on and covering too many topics in one sitting. Being clear, to the point, and often checking for understanding helps to improve focus and concentration.

In short, it is particularly difficult to limit screen time when a lot of activities have been moved online, yet it is possible to use technology in a more constructive way to prevent ourselves from getting overly distracted.

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