Disclaimer: the following blog post contains hypocritical criticisms about youth
Here we are in 2016, apparently it is the year when you can use your phone while other people are trying to have a conversation with you. I admit it, I’ve used my phone while people are talking to me but it’s just plain rude. Of course there are some exemptions like family emergencies or relationship brink-of-breakup text wars but a general scroll on Instagram is not to be prioritised (in my opinion, anyway).
This is an issue I am sick of my Mum badgering me about so I decided to put her to the test.
I set up a small challenge and got my sister to ask her if she could read her a speech she has been working on for school. Going for a total of three minutes I asked my sister to hold the paper in front of her face so ultimately Mum’s integrity was put to the test. Sitting beside my Mum listening to my sister read her speech on discovering her inner blah blah I noticed after about 15 seconds the phone was out and Mum was scrolling on Facebook.
At the conclusion of the speech I had noticed that she had checked her phone a total of 6 times and looked out the window twice. In her defence, she gave quite good feedback and must have been listening quite well (some sort of parental super power).
However my Mum is not alone, recent studies have shown that individuals, especially students, are unable to remain focused on a given task “…for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media” (Sullivan 2013) or something else perhaps more entertaining. I got a mere sentence into writing this blog post then I somehow found myself watching a two-year-old interview on Youtube between Channing Tatum and Ellen where Channing discusses his biggest fears (it’s porcelain dolls by the way).
The thing I found most interesting when researching for this post was that getting distracted by your phone has come a long way and is now much more than your Mum getting angry at you for not paying attention. In fact, international organisation Google has conducted a study to further unpack technology’s grip on an individual’s ability to focus. In the (actually really interesting) paper titled ‘The new multi-screen world‘ researchers have attempted at unravelling the concept of ‘the multi-screen world’ and everything that comes with it.
Most importantly the concepts of sequential and simultaneous multi-screen usage. Basically the act we so apathetically commit each day now has a term. Sequential multi-screen usage refers to the shift from one device to another and simultaneous refers to them being used at the same time (Google 2012). This study can be quickly applied to the notion of getting distracted, when Google took the concept of simultaneous multi-screen usage and applied it to the act of watching television, it found that “…77% of TV viewers use another device at the same time” (Google 2012).
Through writing this post I have read countless articles telling me about how being on my phone so much is ‘ruining my chance at making a real human connection blah blah’ so I am going to make a pledge – challenge myself, if you will, and I think you should join me!
Inc.com writer Jason Selk wrote a post last year in efforts to make phone-addicts, such as myself, see that technology “…definitely won’t experience life for you” (Selk 2015). In the piece he identifies three things you can do to help you disconnect from your phone and reconnect with life. Selk sets the challenge to go three whole hours each week without ANY technology, complete three important tasks each day BEFORE checking your email and create phone-free zones such as the dinner table (I might add a forth, no drunk texting… because we all know how that ends up).
P.s. all participants mentioned in this post were told explicitly how they will be mentioned and portrayed, where the post can be found and if at anytime they would like their part amended or removed – they have full right to ask! Talking about people without their permission is just not cool.
Gonchar, M 2015, Are you distracted by your phone?, New York Times, weblog post, 29 September, viewed 17 September 2016, <http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/09/29/are-you-distracted-by-your-phone/?_r=1>.
Google 2012, The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behaviour, Google, viewed 17 September 2016, <https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf>.
Selk, J 2015, 3 ways to finally stop getting distracted by your phone, Inc.com, weblog post, 28 September, viewed 17 September 2016, <http://www.inc.com/jason-selk/being-present.html>.
Sullivan, B 2013, Students can’t resist distraction for two minutes … and neither can you, NBC News, weblog post, 18 May, viewed 17 September 2016, <http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/students-cant-resist-distraction-two-minutes-neither-can-you-1C9984270>.