Challenge: Social Networking and Distraction


Many of us have felt this one negative effect of social media – only a few days until the deadline, finally picking up a book and trying to do some work … and a quick glance to the opened tabs in our browser signals that we have received (1) new notification. Naturally, until Facebook (or other social networking website) is shut, we won’t be able to focus on our task completely – just because of curiosity. Maybe someone liked our picture? Or tagged us in s status?

Undoubtedly, the increased use of digital media in everyday life will have an impact upon people’s performance in their formal education and from that various issues will arise. One of the main problems teachers and students are facing is pupil’s distraction – there is something preventing them from concentrating on their task.

Pie chart infographic

As seen from the pie chart, according to a survey from Pewinternet, around 47% of asked teachers agree that today’s digital technologies distract students more than help them with their academics. Further 17% have given ‘strongly agree’ as an answer. This means that around two thirds of almost 2500 educators think today’s technological advancements are not used efficiently enough and disrupt the learning process.

A research conducted by Bernard McCoy, associate professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2013), has shown that more than 80% of surveyed students admit that the usage of a smart phone, tablet or a laptop may interfere with their learning. The main cause of distraction during a lecture is texting (nearly 86% of people do it), followed by checking email (68%) and social networking (66%). The main reason for usage of digital media is staying connected (70%) and fighting boredom (55%). The majority of students claim that usage of their technological devices is only ‘a little’ distracting.

As distractions can have an impact on education, it is important to learn how to stay focused in class and not use digital media for unrelated purposes to the lecture. McCoy’s suggestions are to ask students to only message others if it is an emergency and step outside while doing it, in order not to disturb others. Furthermore, he gives periodic breaks and asks students to look up information during class from time to time. However, even with these measurements, pupils continue with their habits – even when over a fourth confess they have lost grade points because of social media distractions (McCoy, 2013).


The real message is because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to be more focused on cultivating the skills of attention.

Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author




Further reading:


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