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Lack of focus in children

Gadgets, social media and television are to blame for the lack of focus in schoolchildren today, it is claimed.

David Boddy, chairman of The Society of Heads which represents more than 100 independent schools, says the country is in the grip of a “national attention deficit syndrome” because children spend so much time plugged into screen-based entertainment. Boddy, who is also the headmaster of an independent boys’ school in Surrey, argues that social media sites such as Facebook are detrimental to the communication skills of young people, as many are unable to hold “proper concentrated conversations” on a face-to-face basis. He has made calls for Britain’s private schools, which, he states are the best in the world, to prioritise tackling the challenges facing the modern education system, including combating the influence of modern technology, and to make efforts to “cultivate every child’s powers of concentration”.

However, television and computers do not bear sole responsibility for the decrease in young peoples’ attention spans. Richard Harming, head of Uppingham School and chairman of the Boarding Schools’ Association, claims that parents are damaging their childrens’ ability to focus by hothousing them to pass tests at a young age. Boddy agrees, claiming that schools should be developing their students’ creativity and emotional awareness, rather than making them absorb “narrow” information through cramming for exams.

There does seem to be a general consensus among tutors that childrens’ focus is slipping. In an age of instant gratification where you can gain information at a click of a button through internet search engines and online encyclopedias asking students to concentrate for prolonged periods of time is becoming more and more difficult. We would love to hear how tutors keep their students on task; are there any new skills that teachers have to develop in order to keep children engaged?

 Picture: Science Media Centre, NZ

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