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Shrinking attention spans, how do you deal with the problem?

Children’s attention spans are shrinking. Why? I think it’s a combination of factors that are inhibiting our future generations...

Much has been written about the differences in how we adults grew up compared to our children, playing outside until street lights come on, only having 4 or 5 television channels and writing snail mail letters to friends and family instead of e-mails or social media. Fact is, if someone wants something today they can access it with the touch of a button, we don’t have to wait.

Parents think they are doing the right thing by providing technology for their children. Homes are full of iPads, iPods, laptops, television channels and video games. All of these activities are passive, done on your own and usually without any need for communication with others at all. I have even seen infants being entertained by watching Netflix on a portable device or playing games on an iPhone. I mean, how is a child supposed to learn to speak and listen if they are engaged in these activities more often than been sung to or goo-goo gaga-ed with?

All of this, twinned with the fear of what can happen to a child if left outside unsupervised, is creating an ‘indoor’ generation that is impatient and not able to concentrate for extended periods of time. I’ve seen children simply give up in a classroom because they don’t understand something or get an answer wrong. This raises another question ‘Why are we so afraid to be wrong?’ Everyone makes mistakes; key is to learn from them and we HAVE to teach our children this.

More children are kept behind in school today than ever, more are on special independent education plans and more are being labeled ’naughty’ all because of their inability to concentrate. This seems to be more of an issue with boys than girls, is it simply because boys generally play more video games and are more into technology and ‘toys’ than their female counterparts?

I feel we are too quick to put a label on a child, the finer details of my opinions we can save for a future post, but too many children are ‘diagnosed’ nowadays with some form of ADD or ADHD and given all sorts of medication to help them deal with their problems. But I think it all has more to do with the way that we live.

This affliction however isn’t just limited to children as we adults live in the same world and there are even companies today like Luminosity that are helping us train our brains, improve concentration and making a huge profit in doing so. I comment on a regular basis when with friends who are sat in silence whilst each of us is clicking away on our smart-phones, there are real people in the room...talk to them!

Worst of all, I don’t see it getting any better…our lives of convenience are ruining our abilities to concentrate. What do you do with your students to help concentration? I’d be interested to hear other tutors’ views...

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