Quantcast

HOW TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS CONCENTRATION

The onset of technology has undoubtedly aided teaching in schools – but, as Alexandra Haddow discovers, the grass is not always greener is it may actually be to the detriment of a child’s concentration level

Writing the introduction of this article took me slightly longer than anticipated. I checked my Facebook, my email, and had a browse of the weekend’s Instagram activity, all whilst vaguely watching something on TV and chatting to my housemates. Despite this I am not somebody that is attached to their phone or a technology addict. I’m also on the older end of a generation obsessed with mobile technology – I wasn’t aware of Facebook until university, and I didn’t have a mobile phone until I was 16. I often wonder if my education would have been different had I been able to tweet about being bored in class, or see what my crush was up to on my phone whilst trying to get A-levels. 

It is perhaps no surprise then that concentration levels in today’s classrooms is an issue. A study by JCA, a school trips provider, found that the more time students spent online, the less time they were able to concentrate in class and the shorter their attention spans. Over half of the 500 teachers surveyed believed that the quality of homework was suffering as a result of pupils spending increased time on social networking sites, and of course phones in class, despite many schools banning them, only increase exposure and interject learning time. In a survey earlier this year, security company Bullguard found that a staggering 70% of children have a mobile device by the age of ten. Children are being inducted into technology from such an early age that they are finding it increasingly difficult to focus on a particular topic or task without checking in with their peers. Schools are having to adapt and introduce new guidelines all the time to cope with the increasing need for constant information. 

Technology and concentration levels in the classroom

Technology has undoubtedly led to advances in the classroom – but at what cost?

The idea of nutrition and diet contributing to concentration is a major factor coupled with a child’s exposure to a constant flow of information. Children are exposed to more ‘energy drinks’ and sugary snacks than ever and with these products providing little to no nutritional value the mind cannot function. Tommy Gaughan, nutritionist at GoNutrition, stresses that ‘diet can effect concentration, memory, focus and mental capacity. This is even more important for school children, as it is during the early years that the brain develops rapidly. Healthy fats, particularly the omega 3 oil DHA, has been associated with cognitive function, concentration and focus. Finally, one of the most important steps you can take to support a child’s concentration day to day is to ensure that they are well hydrated. This does not mean sugary fizzy drinks and fruit juices. Studies have shown that even a mild drop in hydration can negatively affect mood, energy and concentration.’

It is becoming increasingly clear that a change in attitude and stricter rules need to be implemented from an early age in order to ensure children can learn in an environment with as little distraction as possible. So what can we do? As well as adding beneficial ingredients into a child’s diet, Gaughan says avoiding junk food, which has been shown to ‘impair memory and reduce the ability to learn new skills, as well as high sugar diets’ is key. Something as simple as a balanced breakfast could ensure the school morning is better absorbed. Gemma Johnson is a Digital Burnout Coach and believes that children need to be taught ‘digital mastery’ – rather than letting the devices take control. She too believes that it is vitally important for children to be taught about managing digital usage ‘at pre-school age to give them the best chance possible to maximize their learning potential and ensure their attention spans stay intact’.

Routine and regulation in diet and with technology from an early age sadly seems to be the only way to ensure today’s children stay focused as they go through their education. The generation in school today is the first to have to deal with all this external stimuli and we are underprepared in how to deal with it, but hopefully as we go forward we will educate children properly in these subjects, in order that they can educate themselves effectively.

Tommy Gaughan is a nutritionist at GoNutrition (gonutrition.com) and Gemma Johnson is a Digital Burnout Coach (gemmajohnson.co.uk)

Like what you see?

Sign up to The Resident newsletter for even more news, views and things to do in London, delivered direct to your inbox once a week