How to Fight Back Against Distractions: New Story for AARP
Each day, Americans touch their smartphones an astounding 2,617 times a day. That stat appears in my new article for the AARP Bulletin, titled “Keep Your Mental Focus.” The piece discusses not only our obsessions with smartphones, but how we’re missing out on the world around us. In one experiment, 94 percent of Chicago pedestrians using cellphones didn’t see cash hanging from a tree.
The distractions can also increase anxiety: People who continually check their phones report higher stress levels than those who do it less frequently, an American Psychological Association survey reports.
“I think the more you primarily consume tiny bits of information, the harder it gets to consume larger pieces of information,” says Tim Wu, author of The Attention Merchants, about the ways companies capture people’s attention. “No one is making money when you’re playing with your grandchildren. The attention merchants want you clicking on pics of your grandkids, not spending time with your grandkids, because then they can advertise to it.”
Wu believes we all need to make a choice. “It’s important to examine your life and ask, ‘Is this really what I want to do with my mind? And with my time? Will it all just get frittered away?’ ” he says in the article. “If you want to take control of your life and your mind, this is where it starts.”