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How Technology Impacts Attention


It’s no secret that your child’s ability to focus is crucial for their success both in the classroom and on the field. But there’s something that’s competing for their attention, and it might be destroying their focus without them knowing it:

Screens. 

Screens are everywhere these days. They’re helpful and often necessary, but they can also be a big distraction – especially when your kid is trying to do homework, study, or compete. The average teen spends a whopping 7 hours and 22 minutes looking at screens daily, a 2-hour increase since 2015. Teenage boys clock an hour more daily on screens than adolescent girls, with American teens (13-17 years old) spending almost 3 hours longer on screens than tweens (8-12 years old). 

Social media, texting, video games, and videos are hard to resist. They account for much of our children’s social lives and provide an escape from the daily grind of being a student-athlete. Screen time triggers dopamine hits, making it even harder to stay away. What starts as a “quick check” can quickly become a lengthy scroll session. Not only is that a time suck itself, but it can add hours of unproductivity afterward. It distracts us from performing both in our sport and in the classroom. Additionally, increased screen time leads to increased anxiety and decreased levels of confidence.  

Studies show that when kids get distracted by their screens, it can take a long time to return to fully focused attention. A single glance at their phone when a child is working on an assignment or trying to perfect their game-winning move, can derail their focus for over 20 minutes. Those lost minutes can quickly snowball, eating away at the time they need to study, practice, or recharge. It’s like trying to run a race with a weight tied to their ankle – every distraction slows them down and makes it harder to reach their goals.

So, what can you do to help your kid set good technology habits? Here are some ideas:

  1. Set times when your child can’t use their screens, especially when studying. Keeping the devices in another room to help them resist the temptation can help them improve focus and complete the task quicker. 
  2. Set boundaries around screens in their bedroom at night. Using devices before bed can make it hard for them to sleep well. Use an old-fashioned alarm clock instead of a phone alarm. 
  3. Set a good example for your child by limiting your own screen time when spending time with them. 
  4. Talk to your kid about how they use their screens and work together to balance screen time and other activities. The Discipline=Freedom mindset seems to land when having this conversation with teenagers.

By helping your student-athlete navigate the challenges of screen time and develop healthy habits now, you’re giving them a powerful tool to excel in both academics and athletics. It’s not easy and may require adjustments for the whole family, but the benefits are well worth the effort. When your child learns to manage their screen time effectively, they’ll be better equipped to focus, learn, and perform at their best. They’ll build the discipline and resilience they need to tackle any obstacle, on and off the field. 

For More:

It Takes Nearly 30 Minutes to Refocus After You Get Distracted

The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress

Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time

The Relationship Between Cell Phone Use and Academic Performance in a Sample of U.S. College Students

Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity

Relationship of smartphone use severity with sleep quality, depression, and anxiety in university students

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