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Their Eyes are on Everything, but Minds are on Posting and Commenting: Teenagers and Media Distraction

Yazan, Al Mustaqbal School, Palestine

Have you ever tried to call for your son, and he just does not respond to you? Have you ever been listening to your daughter talking about her day but then she suddenly stops talking and starts doing something else? Have you noticed how short the focus span of your teenage child is? This is all caused from being distracted.

A distraction is anything that diverts your attention from the task that you are currently doing. It also could be noises, visual interruptions, or internal factors such as: thoughts, emotions, and worries. Distractions can also interrupt one’s concentration and focus.

The problem with teenagers nowadays is that they spend most of their time on screens, too attached to their cellphones, watching TikTok and Instagram reels, and playing video games. According to a study done by the Pew Reseach Center, 72% of parents feel their teen is at least sometimes distracted by their cellphone when they are trying to have a conversation with them.

Now a question that surprisingly not a lot of people ask, why are phones so addictive? Based on statistics, teenagers spend about seven hours of their day on screens, this time excludes the time they spend doing their schoolwork, which is around 47% of their daytime.

This sad reality is because of the way social media applications are designed. They are designed to make money from advertisements, views, and interactions, so they set the algorithm to make you spend more time on the platform and to see more ads while scrolling. The algorithm is designed to tapping into the brain reward system to keep it coming back for more and spend more time, more scrolls downs to check reels, more TikTok videos, and more posts, checking how many likes and comments they got on their content which makes them always distracted want to check the progress they are making. Video games are designed to keep teenage minds take rapid decisions and multitasking which makes it hard and challenging for the brain to concentrate on slower paced activities.

3 Easy ways to simply solve this!

  1. Set a screen time for your teenager.
  2. Add productive apps such as Duolingo to learn a new language and try to not spend much time on
    TikTok, Instagram reels, or any other nonproductive app.
  3. Encourage your teenager to be more present in person in social life, spend time with their friends,
    and spend quality family time.
  4. Get back to the old school of entertainment, play board games on family nights and practice sports
    like basketball, swimming, football, and even horse riding.

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