Digital Distraction

“The mere presence of a cell or smartphone on the table can disengage people during in-person conversations and hinder their empathy, according to a new Virginia Tech study that finds your attention is divided even if you’re not actively looking at your phone.”

The article ‘Your smartphone could be turning you into a lousy friend – even when you’re not using it‘ is as much about the social impact of the always-on connections we have through our mobile devices as it is about how we manage them.

“For many, digital distraction involves the “constant urge to seek out information, check for communication and direct their thoughts to other people and worlds,” the authors write.”

I like the term ‘digital distraction’ as it is something I find very easy to relate to – I am digitally distracted and I admit it. I look at my phone all too often – for the time, checking email, checking Twitter (saved searches, hashtags, lists, notifications, etc.) – as well as spending a little time on it – a few minutes on BBC News App or a game while waiting for the kettle to boil, Flipboard for something different, checking the weather, etc. – to a lot of time – YouTube or iPlayer videos, games, Kindle books, etc.

In the linked article ‘Digital overload: How we are seduced by distraction‘ it is easy to see why, by the end of the day, my eyes are sore, thumbs aching, and my iPhone battery is nearly dead. It’s been in pretty much constant use all day, even if for only short (<1 minute) periods – it still needs to connect to a network or search for a data connection.

If I could stop doing this I’d be happy, but I know what I’m like – I want to know what’s going on, therefore I will continue to  access my online networks. It’s not a fear of missing out (although I’ll admit there may be an element of it in there somewhere), it’s more a need to know about is sooner and not later as it could help me out in the here-and-now.

How digitally distracted are you (if at all)?

Digital distraction

Image source: Michael Verhoef (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)