Digital, Health, Life

Has Anyone Else Noticed Their Attention Span Getting Shorter?

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Yes, most of the time I’m away with the fairies. I’m easily distracted. But that’s not what I’m getting at here. Have you noticed your concentration levels dropping lately? Do you struggle to just be present without needed to fiddle with your phone?

I’m pretty convinced that my phone is making it hard for me to switch off and relax. I’m guessing us phone obsessed humans have got so used to swiping through a trillion different images, updates and news stories every day, that we’ve kind of forgotten how to let our mind rest.

Did you know that smartphones are causing mental health problems in two-year-olds? Now that’s a horrifying thought. Phones are having an enormous impact on our wellbeing. And when you start to notice that you can’t stop fidgeting because you’re used to having something in your hands, well, then you’ve probably got a problem.

I can’t even have a bath, go for a walk, wait in my car or even sometimes (shamefully) go to the toilet without looking at my phone. Another example of having a short attention span is when I’m watching TV. Unless there’s a programme that is really gripping, I’ll get bored and be on my phone whilst watching TV. The shame.

I guess it’s not just mobile phones but everything we consume these days. Everything is fast paced, we’re always looking for the next best TV show to binge or the newest gadget to enhance our life.

And so, I reckon our attention spans are getting a whole lot shorter.

I think the scariest thing about this is not how social media makes us feel, or the RSI in my right hand, or even the guilt over being on my phone for so long – it’s my inability to relax. My mind never switches off.

I need to swap 2018 for 1918 and live in a world where I don’t have the opportunity to seek out so much information in such a short space of time.

Now, I’ve done a bit of research and found that some studies claim human attention spans aren’t necessarily getting shorter, just more selective. For example, we’re fussier about TV programmes we consume because we’ve got so much choice. But there’s also research to support the fact that we’re getting more distracted. For example, we check our phones 2,617 times a day but even when we do, we don’t spend more than 10 seconds on a webpage.

Researchers at Stanford discovered that heavy multitaskers were much more easily distracted, had significantly less control over their working memory, and were generally much less able to concentrate on a task.

After the new budget was revealed recently, it showed that there will be a 2 billion funding boost in mental health. And yeah, it’s easy to see why this is needed. Our world is getting increasingly manic and we’re getting sucked into the vortex. But we can take action. We just need to switch off a little more and embrace activities that make us feel calmer.

Distracted and stressed by modern life? Here’s what you need to do…

  • Have times where you switch your phone off
  • Revisit not tech-based activities that make you happy (the great outdoors, exercise, reading, socialising)
  • Get stuck into wellness activities that will allow you to calm your mind (yoga, mindfulness, meditation)
  • Make changes now – recognise your phone or social media addiction and write a ‘recovery’ plan, seriously
  • Schedule proper downtime which doesn’t involve TV/phone/work
  • Stop trying to multitask so much, try to consume or enjoy one thing at time
  • Get back to nature, spend time around animals
  • When you are reading or consuming something, try not to skim through it (unless you’re in a rush). Take your time and digest things a little more
  • Enjoy some quiet time where you listen to music, sit there in silence or take a nap