Fighting for our Own Attention

The bestselling book, Stolen Focus by Johann Hari begins with the author’s own  three-month experience of living screen-free and what he learned along the way. Here, Heritage parent Rachel Bruins shares her thoughts:

Stolen Focus made for a challenging read, rather relevant to Screen Free week! The statistic that university students are apparently only able to concentrate for 65 seconds, and adults for barely much longer at 3 minutes, is concerning. It reflects my own observation of myself. Hari addresses what has changed to shorten our attention spans and then goes on to suggest a number of ways we might ameliorate the situation. It is a fascinating book which the author has clearly well researched with numerous footnotes. 

If you’re like me, you probably blame your electronic devices for any declining attention span you see in yourself. Hari started there, but came to realise that is only part of the problem, which is deeper and transcends these gadgets. 

Spoiler alert: Additional factors the author points to include the way we short change ourselves of sleep, the negative effects of pollution, the fact we don’t let our minds daydream enough, our failure to undertake activities which absorb and distract us (such as doing a puzzle or painting a picture), apps whose developers are paid to make them addictive and ever present, and the fact we allow our children little freedom to play unsupervised these days. 

This book is well worth a read. Perhaps a good choice for Screen Free Week?

Rachel Bruins, Year 5 and 9 Parent and HCA Co-Chair