It probably happens more than you realize, you get online, using your preferred electronic device, planning only to check a few emails. Then, the next thing you know, too much time has passed as you have continued feeding your Internet addiction. Now, more than ever, we have access to an endless supply of information and avenues of communication with anyone and everyone.
Most of us are probably not even aware that we have an addiction to our electronic devices. Although these inventions provide us with the ability to obtain information and communicate with the touch of a simple button, what is it really costing us? Well, it costs us our ability to focus and concentrate.
According to Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains,” the Internet was designed to serve as an interruption to our system by dividing our attention. We are often willing to accept this loss of concentration in exchange for the wealth of information we instantly receive. Addiction means the mind has an unrelenting pull to a particular substance or activity that causes a person to become compulsive in their actions that ultimately interferes with their life.
It is natural for our brains to crave immediate gratification and stimulation constantly, which creates a “compulsion loop.” At some point, our minds reach a cognitive overload, which in time, begins to deteriorate our long-term memory. What can you do to avoid this overload and get your focus back?
Maybe it is time for a detox. It is likely that your body has begun to suffer the consequences of too much Internet. Instead of trying to quit cold turkey, try to set a schedule for yourself and limit the amount of time you are online each day. Start by reducing your time spent online.
Obviously, many jobs entail using the Internet and email on a regular basis, but aside from work, try limiting your interactions online. It is hard to login to send only one email because many times we cannot help but eye the subject lines of incoming emails, and before you know it, you are all wrapped up in your email for far too long. Try to close out your email and only check it a few times a day, if your job warrants this limited interaction. Set aside specific times during your day in which you will allow yourself to complete work tasks that involve using email and the Internet.
You may even find that taking an extended break from your computer and smartphone will do you some good. Try, for instance, to go all weekend without engaging with the Internet for personal use. Talking on the phone is not excluded from this experiment, but you may want to let people know that you can only be reached if they call you.
If you handle these exercises well, try going longer periods without checking the Internet. For instance, on your next week-long family vacation, put the phone down and the computer away, and for goodness sakes, make some memories with your family that do not require using the Internet or social media.
In time, you will find that making these small adjustments will allow you to regain your focus.
Schwartz, T. (2015). Addicted to Distraction. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/29/opinion/sunday/addicted-to-distraction.html