If you watched the movie Wall E, you will remember the people in the movie gradually turned into people-shaped blobs with no bones so they couldn’t walk or support themselves in an upright position.
So I got to thinking about teens now, whose attention span, due to social media, is going more and more to that 15-30 second fix of entertainment. Reading some articles on this topic, I have learned that since the Covid pandemic, the time that teens (and younger) spend on social media has grown enormously. This is no surprise as I see it everywhere especially since I have a teen. It is a way for them to stay connected with friends, which started in a time when staying home and away from anyone else was a necessity. We do put time limits and have rules around it, which gets harder to enforce as he gets older and needs more independence.
With school and University, it has always been imperative to be able to self-motivate and get work done, and spend hours reading or studying one topic. But what happens going forward? Spending hours per day on devices that feed you 15-30 second videos non-stop can actually re-wire your brain.
So what would the Wall E equivalent be? What does that look like for jobs in the future? For getting through university and having trouble staying on focus?
Someone shared an interesting article with me, ‘take away their cell phones’ (educationnext.org – Doug Lemov) which also explains that the area of our brain that “exerts impulse control and self discipline, the prefrontal cortex, isn’t fully developed until age 25.” And people are more “customed to being in states of half-attention.”
It can be hard to imagine a reality that is so different from the life or the world we are used to, but undoubtedly, our world will be quite different again in 20, 50 and 100 years. And I am curious how the affects of the attention piece of devices and social media will shape our future.