Do you suffer from Divided Attention Disorder? (Hint: you probably don't)

An ADD for the technological age, 'divided attention disorder' could be the cause of eroding memory and concentration skills, caused by short bursts of information like text messaging. Allegedly.

A constant stream of information flowing into our minds from our computers, smartphones and tablets is causing us to lack in concentration, and split our attention from tasks we should be focusing on.

Apparently, anyway.

The theory put forward by psychologists and neuroscientists is that our memories are being 'eroded' by instant communications, social networking and emails, which causes our concentration levels to drop. Our ability to consume short bursts of information allegedly impacts our ability to consume larger amounts of data and information, such as content found in books.

I guess it could be compared to ADHD 2.0 - attention defecit hyperactivity disorder, but with a technological twist.

But I am not too convinced.

On any typical day, I will have my browser open with the typical email window, Facebook and Twitter, plus Google News, a stream of tabs from the BBC, and that is just on one of my monitors. The other has another browser dedicated to my writing and other miscellaneous tabs of 'things to do later', which inevitably gets put off until the next working day.

The argument is far too subjective over the term 'attention'. I get bored very quickly, which is why I work so much. I bounce between writing, studying and reading relevant academic literature near constantly to keep myself entertained.

Arguably, my internal wiring isn't exactly perfect. I suffer from TS; linked to co-morbidity with other conditions, like ADD, ASD, OCD and dyslexia. While I only have the dyslexia part (maybe I am in the wrong line of work), I would not be a suitable benchmark to measure this newfangled technology-driven disorder.

Let us not forget that ADHD, or ADD - however you want to acronymise it, didn't exist thirty years ago. It hadn't been invented. So now we are left to categorise new patterns of behaviour that we exhibit based on new technologies and societal changes.

But to claim the age old myth that 'literacy is dead' is untrue. Young people read more now than they may have done in the past, as information is instant and linked elsewhere. Personally, I can be stuck reading Wikipedia for hours, just by clicking on things that interest me, and others are the same.

The quality of the literature, however, may not be up to the standards of Dickens or Wordsworth. But the risk to traditional book reading may not be helped by technological advances like the Kindle.

Either you are a book reader, or you are not, in my opinion. Academically, there is a reason why we 'read' a particular subject as opposed to simply 'studying' it, but that comes with the territory.

Young people are not reading less; just less of the good stuff.

Newsletters

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
See All
See All