Friday - - News - Karen Pasquali Jones, Editor kpasqual­i­

There’s some­thing fishy about so­cial media. It isn’t just that you can fil­ter your Face­book posts so your col­leagues don’t see your sun­bathing pic­tures, and it’s not about those peo­ple who spend Thurs­day nights stalk­ing their exes online. I’m talk­ing about the shock­ing news that our at­ten­tion span is now only eight sec­onds be­cause of our over-re­liance on smart­phones and gad­gets. That’s a sec­ond less than a gold­fish’s at­ten­tion span and down from 12 sec­onds in 2000. A study by Mi­crosoft shows that the dis­trac­tion of phone calls, texts, mes­sages, In­sta­gram im­ages, tweets, no­ti­fi­ca­tions and emails have a pro­foundly detri­men­tal ef­fect on our work and pri­vate lives. Many of us – es­pe­cially ‘dig­i­tal na­tives’, that is, tweens and teenagers – are now so ad­dicted to so­cial media we ac­tu­ally suf­fer from ‘phan­tom text syn­drome’ where we falsely think we’ve heard an alert from our phone and so keep check­ing.

Tech­nol­ogy is even af­fect­ing the way our chil­dren so­cialise. They now text their friends twice as much as they talk to them, and rely on those mes­sages as a con­stant re­minder that they’re pop­u­lar. We’re head­ing for over­load, ex­perts warn, say­ing that it takes us up to 25 min­utes to get back to full work­ing mode af­ter each so­cial media in­ter­ac­tion/dis­trac­tion. So while we might think we’re mul­ti­task­ing by tex­ting in front of a com­puter, or TV, we’re ac­tu­ally slow­ing our brain down, mean­ing it takes longer to fin­ish any task.

The an­swer? Ac­cord­ing to our fas­ci­nat­ing ar­ti­cle on page 22, it’s sim­ple: switch off. That way you can fo­cus on the pro­ject at hand, and think prop­erly rather than rush through a mul­ti­tude of dazed and con­fused over­lap­ping tasks. I’m about to em­brace the off but­ton to avoid gold­fish syn­drome as it’s sink or swim time!

Un­til next week,

We’re head­ing for IN­FOR­MA­TION OVER­LOAD, ex­perts warn, say­ing that it takes us UP TO 25 MIN­UTES to get back to FULL WORK­ING MODE af­ter EACH SO­CIAL MEDIA in­ter­ac­tion

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