Innovating to combat attention deficit

Praveen S
Sunday, June 25, 2023

We might have an attention deficit problem. We have been discussing this for some time; we also discuss its reasons and take steps to combat it individually. As we think information overload is not the sole reason, we have attributed it to increasing internet usage, mobile phone usage, and many other things. Our willingness to multi-tasking is a major contributing factor, though it is scientifically impossible.


My wife, when she does two things simultaneously, studying and watching TV, says she has been doing the same thing for years. She believes in her multi-tasking ability. Crores of others also believe. However, all research on multi-tasking proves the opposite (if you need some citations to bring credibility here, see Wang and Tchernev 2012; Rosen 2008; Ophir, Nass, and Wagner 2009). While multi-tasking, we divide our attention between different tasks instead of doing multiple tasks together. This hampers our efficiency. You need not doubt for a  second that your attempts to multi-task will only result in sub-optimal outcomes; ample research proves it.


Our attempts to multi-task often result in a lack of focused attention and a lower ability to sustain attention. Its impact on children is needless to discuss. I am not an educational psychologist. However, I have glanced through enough research on educational psychology to conclude that my son should have focused attention and the ability for sustained attention if he needs to do well in his studies.


Yesterday suddenly, I was pondering over the recent tech products and the needs they satisfy. Most of them have been developed to make use of or fulfill a need concerning our attention deficit problem. Think of Twitter; it is an answer to the inability to sustain our attention while reading for over a few seconds. Thus change from blogs to tweets, from youtube to shorts, and the development of other 100s of apps and platforms need to thank our attention deficit problem. What if our attention deficit grows still further, frustratingly further? What tech solutions await us to help us with this madness?