It’s a distracting world – more than ever before. It’s almost impossible not to lose focus and flitter round these digital distractions like butterflies. This creates the danger of de-skilling us from the ability to concentrate for longer periods. No wonder kids can’t focus on their learning; the distractions are very seductive.
Therefore it’s necessary to manage these distractions in a way that helps us get the most out of the information, the connectivity we have, and the digital world.
Failing to do this can lead to digital overload, to being overwhelmed and stressed out. Some suggest that digital overload contributes to poor mental health, many people becoming addicted to looking at their smart phone every few minutes. And the rise in child mental health issues is alarming. Digital overload probably contributes.
Since the most influential impact on our youngsters’ behaviour is our own, they are bound to adopt similar patterns with regard to managing these influences and distractions, as well as copy how we build resilience to their impact.
So perhaps it’s best to make conscious decisions about the way we use, visit, or bypass parts of the digital world – for sanity’s sake – for ourselves and for our learners. For the way we navigate this info- and social-rich world will be how our youngsters do, so it’s worth examining our habits and considering whether they’re the ones we want our learners to adopt.
Following are five ideas to consider:
- There’s time to be distracted by our phones and a time not to be. Do we demonstrate periods of time when we are separate from our phones? We want and expect learners to concentrate on the matter in hand without interruptions – is that what we do?
- Consequently we need to be discerning about what to respond to, when it’s okay to do so (not in study or work time perhaps – or in family time) and be brave enough to switch off certain notifications so we only see what’s happening on Facebook or email for example when we choose to visit, rather than constantly being interrupted.
- How many social platforms do we use? It’s often best just to focus on the ones that we really like and remove the rest and encourage our youngsters to do the same. To be choosy. To remember social media is mostly for social times, not study or work times. Same with Gaming.
- Googling is an incredible way to extend learning. There is information to be had about everything, every minute. But again we need to be selective and encourage our learners to do the same, even ask whether it’s needed – on some occasions – to Google at all.
- The digital world is enriching. No doubt about it. In order for it to continue to play an enriching part in our lives and our well being, and that of our learners, we need to be in charge of it and not allow it to become in charge of us. And maintain periods of time that we focus exclusively on other life!