Is it true that smartphones are shortening our attention spans? Should you give your child a tablet computer from a young age? A new study based on a survey of eighth graders from Norway cautions against it.
Exploring the impacts of different teaching methods such as digital platforms on student learning, the study reveals how screen time affects children’s ability to process and retain information. According to the lead author of the study, Professor Marte Blikstad-Balas, it is now more difficult for students to read longer texts compared to students 20 years ago.
This is because their brains are used to reading on computer or mobile screens, which offer more distractions. Blikstad-Balas also said that pictures and videos distract children and made them more accustomed to shorter texts.
“If a child is studying on a mobile or laptop they have many other windows open, which distract them. And that’s the way their brain develops,” said Dr Wajahat on SAMAA TV’s programme Naya Din on Wednesday.
He added that studying for long periods on a laptop or tablet is bad for the health for this very reason. Children cannot focus on one thing for longer than 20 minutes because their attention span has decreased so much, he said.
Dr Wajahat said that physical books were better for young children than electronic ones and should be used for reading and studying.
“Create a structured environment at home, similar to a library. Start by telling your child to sit with a book for 20 minutes. That will familiarise them with books,” he said.
But if your child had formed the habit of studying on a tablet, delete other applications on it to decrease distractions, Dr Wajahat suggested. “Only let the child access the book they’re studying from,” he said.
He ended with a word of advice for older readers, too: “Try to keep your phone aside for one whole hour every day and appreciate life.”