Digital devices are creating national attention deficit

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Meetings, appointments that continue to stack up, and the ever-growing e-mail inbox: these things are all part of our daily lives today.  Our society is busy and we celebrate this busyness and connectivity. We live in an age where we are always connected to our devices, whether it’s our iPhone, iPad, Kindles, or laptops! And with this comes distraction and total information overload. 

Richard Davidson, a leading neuroscientist attending the Thrive CEP Summit at Adweek recently shared his thoughts about this age of connectivity and distraction. He says "I think if we're all honest about it, we all suffer from attention deficit disorder, and it's in part attributable to the kind of exposure we have to digital devices. The kind of feedback that we get from them is immediate feedback and it's highly reinforcing, so it becomes like a drug. And in fact, it co-opts the same brain systems that are indicated in addiction." (1) Davidson continues by saying that we don’t need to eliminate technology as a whole, but instead work on improving our relationship with it. It all comes down to practicing control over our use of technology rather than letting it control us. 

Do you feel distress when you aren’t connected to the virtual world?  When you aren’t playing video games or you don’t have the television on or your iPhone connected to Facebook, are you thinking about the next time that you can get online and get connected? Are you disrupted easily or are you easily distracted because you are always stopping to look at your phone or iPad? Do you feel anger when you’re cut off from technology?  If you answered yes to any of these things, you are likely experiencing some kind of addiction to technology.  Without getting help, the addiction can turn into something very severe that has the potential to do harm, not only to your physical body but it can also negatively affect your emotional and social wellbeing.  

Instead of letting technology manage you, manage it instead. Take breaks from your phone, Internet, and laptop on a regular basis, even if it means starting small. Turn off your phone at night and don’t bring it into the bedroom with you when you are turning in for the night. Schedule regular vacations that allow you to disconnect from the virtual world, too – maybe an overnight camping trip or another adventure that allows you to leave your devices at home and reconnect with the real world. 

Don’t let you devices turn you into an attention deficit monster. Manage technology so it is beneficial to you rather than detrimental!  

1. Gregoire, Carolyn, “Our Digital Device Addition is Causing A ‘National Attention Deficit.” The Huffington Post. October 7, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/03/neuroscientist-richard-da_n_5923648.html
Accessed October 20, 2014.