It’s Not ADD, It’s Technology

Time published the results of a study on media habits and the proliferation of mobile digital devices.  If you do decide to click-through and read it, be prepared to be disturbed.  I was.  Then again, I’m what is called in the study a “digital immigrant” – someone who picked up mobile technology in his adult life which was, of course, when it was invented.  Digital natives are those who grew up with the technology.  Since we’re all about being helpful here (and since if you’re under 30 your attentionis likely to wander in about 5 seconds according to this), let me post some of the key findings:

Nokia N8

Photo credit: Wikipedia

  • Digital Natives switch their attention between media platforms (i.e. TVs, magazines, tablets, smartphones or channels within platforms) 27 times per hour, about every other minute.
  • Because Digital Natives spend more time using multiple media platforms simultaneously, their emotional engagement with content is constrained. They experience fewer highs and lows of emotional response and as a result, Digital Natives more frequently use media to regulate their mood – as soon as they grow tired or bored, they turn their attention to something new.
  • More than half (54%) of Digital Natives say “I prefer texting people rather than talking to them” compared with 28% of Digital immigrants
  • One major implication of these findings is that Digital Immigrants are intuitively linear – they want to see a beginning, middle, and end to stories. For Natives, stories still need a beginning, middle and end, but they will accept it in any order. Digital Natives are subconsciously switching between platforms and can pick up different pieces of a story from different mediums in any order.

Let me add some random points from an article on A.D.D., which seems to be running rampant among young folks:

  • (ADD) is characterized primarily by inattention, easy distractibility, disorganization, procrastination, and forgetfulness
  • Often has trouble keeping attention on tasks or play activities.
  • Is often easily distracted.
  • Avoiding tasks that require a high amount of mental effort and organization
  • Often having difficulty concentrating on conversations

Is it me, or do you see the similarities?  One might wonder if the ADD diagnosis can be applied to anyone whom Time classifies as a Digital Native.  Maybe instead of giving Ritalin and Adderall we ought to be taking away smartphones and tablets?


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1 Comment

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One response to “It’s Not ADD, It’s Technology

  1. Pingback: Digital Natives: Learning Styles & Internet Habits | Wired Cosmos

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