Sunday, November 21, 2010

Times looks at digital distraction

The New York Times visits the problem -- and I think it's a major problem that is growing worse -- of digital distraction today with a nice story (you may have to activate a free account to view this site) about how educations are using technology to battle technology.

To me, the distractions of technology continue to grow -- and I teach the stuff. I find it is affecting me personally. I can barely watch television without a laptop also scanning the web. If I'm without my cell phone, I feel uncomfortable. If I don't check email for a few hours, I think I've lost touch.

However, there is a good side. If I don't check several news sites for a while, I feel out of touch. For those of us in the news business, that's a good thing. We need to redirect our youth from Facebook to the news (and, yes, Facebook is a form of communicating news). My problem with the digital world is that it's a real distraction from the real life going on around us. When I'm scanning sites on my laptop, I'm not really paying attention to the television. And, even worse, I'm not learning as much as when I read ink on paper. I haven't read research, but I'd bet that our retention is not as good. I know news sites are far less satisfying than newspapers or magazines, and I also know that I don't learn as much. More stories like the one today may prompt the research needed to validate my gut feeling, or show that my concerns are unwarranted.