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Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction
By all rights, Vishal, a bright 17-year-old, should already have finished the book, ’s “Cat’s Cradle,” his summer reading assignment. But he has managed 43 pages in two months. He typically favors , and making digital videos. That is the case this August afternoon. Bypassing Vonnegut, he clicks over to YouTube, meaning that tomorrow he will enter his senior year of high school hoping to see an improvement in his grades, but without having completed his only summer homework. On YouTube, “you can get a whole story in six minutes,” he explains. Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. Researchers say the lure of these technologies, while it affects adults too, is particularly powerful for young people. “Their brains are rewarded not for staying on task but for jumping to the next thing,” said Michael Rich, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and executive director of the Center on Media and Child Health in Boston. But he also plays video games 10 hours a week. Related:  MultitaskingDistractionscstorcella

The new marshmallow test: Resisting the temptations of the web By Annie Murphy Paul This story also appeared at: Living rooms, dens, kitchens, even bedrooms: Investigators followed students into the spaces where homework gets done. Pens poised over their “study observation forms,” the observers watched intently as the students—in middle school, high school, and college, 263 in all—opened their books and turned on their computers. For a quarter of an hour, the investigators from the lab of Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, marked down once a minute what the students were doing as they studied. Photo by Erin Scott Although the students had been told at the outset that they should “study something important, including homework, an upcoming examination or project, or reading a book for a course,” it wasn’t long before their attention drifted: Students’ “on-task behavior” started declining around the two-minute mark as they began responding to arriving texts or checking their Facebook feeds.

'The Shallows': This Is Your Brain Online Kids' Self-Control Is Crucial for Their Future Success Self-control—the ability to regulate our attention, emotions and behaviors—emerges in childhood and grows throughout life, but the skill varies widely among individuals. Past studies have reported that self-control is partially inherited and partially learned and that those with less self-control are more likely to be unemployed, en­gage in unhealthy behaviors such as overeating, and live a shorter life. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA tying childhood self-control to health and well-being in adulthood suggests that everyone, not just those most lacking the skill, would benefit from a self-control boost. Psychologist Terrie E. Moffitt of Duke University and her team focused on the self-control of a group of 1,037 children born in 1972 and 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand. In addition to surveying and ruling out intelligence and socioeconomic status as possible explanations, the team explored whether differences in upbringing could play a role.

Students can't resist distraction for two minutes ... and neither can you Are gadgets making us dumber? Two new studies suggest they might be. One found that people who are interrupted by technology score 20 percent lower on a standard cognition test. A second demonstrated that some students, even when on their best behavior, can't concentrate on homework for more than two minutes without distracting themselves by using social media or writing an email. Interruptions are the scourge of modern life. We've known for a while that distractions hurt productivity at work. Multitasking has been the subject of popular debate, but among neuroscientists, there is very little of that. Researchers say only the simplest of tasks are candidates for multitasking, and all but one of those tasks must involve automaticity. Overestimated abilities Despite this concern among brain scientists, many people overestimate their ability to multitask, such as the college student who thinks he can text and listen to a lecture simultaneously. 'Problem built into the brain'

Reading Club | Digital Distraction How many times will you check Facebook, Twitter, your e-mail, or another tab on your Internet browser as you read this post, and what does that do to your ability to absorb what you read? How does this “rapidly toggling between tasks” affect our brains in general? Does dividing our concentration this way change how we learn? For the final installment of our Reading Club this year, we offer a pair of articles — one from The New York Times’s Sunday Review and the other from the KQED Mind/Shift blog — that detail new research on the potential costs of this “rapid toggling” that most of us engage in every day. Though we’ve posted about this topic before via everything from lesson plans to our Student Opinion questions, we thought these two articles, read together, would be perfect for the more formal student response we ask for in our Reading Club feature. We have a few basic rules and guidelines that you should read in full.

Freedom, digital distraction and control Annie Murphy Paul has an excellent article in Slate and this publication this week about the issue of digital distraction while learning. A recently published study by psychologist Larry Rosen found that in a short 15-minute period of observation, teenagers spent only 65 percent of their time studying. Their attention drifted after an average of 2 minutes from reading and writing their assignments to activities like Facebook, texting and instant messaging–and all this was while they knew they were being watched. Digital distraction or multitasking is a modern scourge, not just for young people. The question is what to do about it. Control by authority means putting the teacher and school in charge of students’ access to technology: banning cellphones in school, instituting “screens down” policies, and enlisting teachers to police students’ behavior from moment to moment. Control through technology means designing tools to nudge students in the direction of desired use.

Workplace Distractions: Here's Why You Won't Finish This Article In the few minutes it takes to read this article, chances are you'll pause to check your phone, answer a text, switch to your desktop to read an email from the boss's assistant, or glance at the Facebook or Twitter messages popping up in the corner of your screen. Off-screen, in your open-plan office, crosstalk about a colleague's preschooler might lure you away, or a co-worker may stop by your desk for a quick question. And bosses wonder why it is tough to get any work done. Distraction at the office is hardly new, but as screens multiply and managers push frazzled workers to do more with less, companies say the problem is worsening and is affecting business. While some firms make noises about workers wasting time on the Web, companies are realizing the problem is partly their own fault. Even though digital technology has led to significant productivity increases, the modern workday seems custom-built to destroy individual focus. Part of the solution for Mr. Mr. Ms. Within Intel Corp.'

How Does Multitasking Change the Way Kids Learn? Using tech tools that students are familiar with and already enjoy using is attractive to educators, but getting students focused on the project at hand might be more difficult because of it. Living rooms, dens, kitchens, even bedrooms: Investigators followed students into the spaces where homework gets done. Pens poised over their “study observation forms,” the observers watched intently as the students—in middle school, high school, and college, 263 in all—opened their books and turned on their computers. For a quarter of an hour, the investigators from the lab of Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University-Dominguez Hills, marked down once a minute what the students were doing as they studied. A checklist on the form included: reading a book, writing on paper, typing on the computer—and also using email, looking at Facebook, engaging in instant messaging, texting, talking on the phone, watching television, listening to music, surfing the web. Related

What is Cyberbullying | StopBullying.gov Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Why Cyberbullying is Different Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. Effects of Cyberbullying Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to: Use alcohol and drugs Skip school Experience in-person bullying Be unwilling to attend school Receive poor grades Have lower self-esteem Have more health problems Frequency of Cyberbullying

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