Technology: A Concentration Slayer

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Technology is an incredible thing with undeniable benefits for our society. Practically unlimited access to information and real-time news has made the world a smaller place, but many experts believe that technology is also a major concentration killer.

Technology is an incredible thing with undeniable benefits for our society. Practically unlimited access to information and real-time news has made the world a smaller place, but many experts believe that technology is also a major concentration killer.

An enormous part of our population conducts many aspects of their life via a screen. We use computers during our “9 to 5” working life, we seek out entertainment via screens in all shapes and sizes; to socialise, to plan a holiday, to learn and sometimes even to find a partner.

Web MD defines ADHD as “a chronic condition marked by persistent inattention, hyperactivity, and sometimes impulsivity”. As a diagnosis it is on the rise around the world. The ADHD Institute[1], meta-regression analyses have estimated the worldwide prevalence at between 5.29%[2] and 7.1% in children and adolescents,[3] and at 3.4% in adults[4].

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend over 7 and half hours a day using entertainment media. This astonishing figure is actually increasing when one takes into consideration that this is nearly 20% more time spent using a screen than five years ago.[5] A modern-day concern has arisen and mental health professionals are now analysing how lifestyle and social trends are affecting our ability to properly concentrate.

Youngsters are not the only ones glued to the screen. WebMB recently published a list of the top concentration killers in adult life, many of them arguably contributing to the rise of ADD and ADHD diagnosis. These include: social media, incessant work emailing, mobile phones, multitasking, boredom, stress and depression, among others.[6]

Medical professionals agree that technology itself does not cause ADHD; instead, development of this disorder is linked to genetic and neurobiological factors. Nonetheless, environmental risk must also be taken into account as if proper practices are not set in place after diagnosis the impact on the individual can be detrimental.

Best Doctors Neurology Specialist, Professor Michael Swash, agrees that modern day society in many ways has become fleeting and that we tend to spend less time focusing on truly communicating with each other. “In society, the advent of multiple methods of communication with the electronic era has resulted in abbreviation of text and meaning, and a fatefully temporary nature in all communications.”

It is highly recommendable to limit time spent on a screen at any age in life. This will ensure that children with a predisposition to loss of attention have the opportunity to practice focusing in “the real world” – one much larger than that of a 24cm x 17cm tablet screen.

Proper practices are recommended for those diagnosed with ADHD and as well as those who are not. We are all victims of a day-to-day life, quickly passed and full of distractions. Below are a few recommended practices from healthcare professionals:

  • Meditate on a regular basis
  • Take rewarding but scheduled breaks
  • Spend more time prioritising and less time attempting to multitask
  • Don’t be afraid to let a few calls go to your answering machine
  • Periodically turn off your new email notifications
  • Schedule appropriate times for social media use

If you suspect you or your child may have ADHD, we recommend you discuss your symptoms with your GP.

 

 

[1] ADHD Iinstitute

[2] Polanczyk G, de Lima MS, Horta BL, et al. The worldwide prevalence of ADHD: a systematic review and metaregression analysis. Am J Psychiatry 2007; 164: 942-948.

[3] Willcutt EG. The prevalence of DSM-IV attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: a meta-analytic review. Neurotherapeutics 2012; 9: 490-499.

[4] Fayyad J, de Graaf R, Kessler R, et al. Cross-national prevalence and correlates of adult attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. Br J Psychiatry 2007; 190: 402-409.

[5] http://www.everydayhealth.com/adhd-awareness/does-technology-cause-adhd.aspx

[6] http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/ss/slideshow-top-concentration-killers

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