Hocus Pocus disappearing focus

Alejandro Torres, Staff Writer

Technological advances have brought about unintended consequences, possibly including a decreasing attention span. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the average attention span of a person in the year 2000 was 12 seconds long. As of 2013, that number has decreased to eight seconds.

The NCBI defines attention span as “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted.”

On decreasing attention spans, the NCBI stated, “ Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals. It’s no surprise attention spans have been decreasing over the past decade with the increase in external stimulation.”

That external stimulation includes smartphones, tablets and the Internet. These are all tools that the modern student has access to and that can be used as aids, but can these same tools be distractions?

“I do believe that people in fact have shorter attention spans,” said Sherwood Ludwig, a Hudson Valley student. “People have been using social media for multitasking and have not been able to concentrate on one thing.”

Other Hudson Valley students have voiced similar opinions. “The technology today is just so advanced that people completely focus on that versus books and magazines, they don’t really read much anymore,” said student Christine Hesler.

Teachers agree that attention spans are declining. The Pew Research Center found that 87 percent of middle school and high school teachers think technology is turning young people into “an easily distracted generation with short attention spans.” 64 percent of teachers say technology “does more to distract students than help them academically.”

A possible outcome of shorter attention spans is Vine, a smartphone application that allows users to create six second looping videos. Developed by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll, Vine was launched on Jan. 24 of last year.

“I find Vine to be another one of those fads. I don’t believe it’s going to last. It’s time is currently now and people are going nuts over it,” said Ludwig.

“I know of Vine, I’ve seen some of the videos and they’re usually just garbage circling around,” said Volungus, referring to the application’s looping feature.

Other students voiced different opinions.

“They’re fine, [the videos] are meant to make you laugh,” said Hesler.

Students were also asked if they found it difficult themselves to pay attention in class.

“It depends on the class. If it’s interesting enough I’ll definitely pay attention, no problem,” said Ludwig.

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