Update: It’s the time for us to recognize the problem

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Is there any possibility that we can both multi-task and focus at the same time? The answer may be no.

In the social media era, we are accustomed to watch a short video while reading the news article accompanying it. We send tweets when listening to music a friend shared online. We spend the waiting time watching Netflix when the chicken wings are in the oven. For some college students, listening to a boring lecture while sending texts under the table happens once in a while. People love technology that can help them do several things at a time. The illusion of being productive is appealing, but people do not realize that they may waste more time unnecessarily interacting with others and that their attention span has been reduced to more than half than before.

Studies indicate that the average attention span at present is 5 minutes, while it was 12 minutes 10 years ago, and unfortunately, contrary to what people normally believe, younger people like us who are deep users of social media have shorter attention span than the elderly. What’s more, the average time for users to wait the webpage to load is shrinking in a drastic speed. In 1993, Jacob Nielson believed in his book that the limit was 10 seconds, and now 20 years later, an article posted on New York Times website indicate that the wait time is now literally shorter than the blink of an eye. (See graph below.) We do not only gradually lose our focus on important things, but also the patience to wait for it.

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Technology does impact the way your brain works. There is no doubt that with the Internet, information can be accessible anywhere, but do we actually take full advantage of it? Some of us may admit that we wasted most time online interacting with other people.

There is actually scientific evidence to explain it. Yes, again, it’s all hormone working in your brain. This chemical called Oxytocin is also described as a type of “social glue” adhering families and communities. According to the research, it drives issues of “generosity, empathy and sharing”, which attracts people to interact each other and relieve pressure.

So the problem does exist, and sometimes our brain just cannot resist to it. Then what should be our reaction to it? Is there any possibility to “fight” against the hormone? We will see.

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