What is it about digital technology – our phones, computers, the internet, tv – that captures our attention so thoroughly? What does this do to our memory, attention span, creativity, ability to work for extended time periods and think deeply? Is “Addiction” a valid word to use in regards to the relationships we have? The resources below address these issues in a variety of ways:

One important question is: How does digital technology and media impact our education? Technology and media give us incredible access to the world. However, the very act of bringing a computer into the classroom may be detrimental to learning because of the distraction it provides. Studies show that multitasking is less productive than sustained focus. In the words of an Ivy League computer science professor:  The Case for Banning Laptops in the Classroom (The New Yorker, 2014). Related studies and articles below.

The knowledge that multitasking is detrimental to absorbing new information and accomplishing tasks is not vigorously disputed. However, the question of “addiction” remains. Are we addicted to our devices? Neuroscientists argue that, unlike technology like television and radio, smartphones are uniquely formatted to pull and hold our attention. While we know they may be “bad” for us, in the long term as well as critically, during high-focused tasks like driving, we somehow can’t resist. Why not?

The long term effects of digital technology on our attention are not conclusive. However, the idea of missing “downtime” has pervaded digital technology critiques. Turns out, our brains do better with time to be “bored,” in order to go perform necessary internal processing and to produce creative thought. Using technology has actually shortened our finite attention spans. However, technology can enable technology, as well, when used wisely.