Education Trends: Engineered Distraction – Is the Internet Killing our Attention Span?

4 min read

Edition: December 17th, 2021
Curated by the Knowledge Team of ICS Career GPS

If you’re unable to break the scrolling cycle, you’re not alone. (Image Source:
  • Excerpts from article by Stuart Gentle, published on
  • Excerpts from article by Anoushka Rajesh, published on
If you’re unable to break the scrolling cycle, you’re not alone.

A very real phenomenon witnessed universally with COVID-19 is an obsessive usage of social media to browse through updates and information, which are more often than not, terrifying and upsetting.

Today, we are constantly on our phones and laptops – working, chatting, video calling…bombarded by notifications that pop up.

Content on the internet is geared towards catering to an increasingly attention-challenged population. Organisations are vying with each other to make their content more visually engaging, provocative, entertaining, etc.

And the fatigue of trying to keep up with all of this is starting to get to many of us.

Let’s take a look at how the web is robbing us of our attention and why we should fight to get it back.

1. The Battle For Your Attention

  • The number one thing companies are trying to capture today is our attention.
  • We’re surrounded by advertisements, texts and video content to an overwhelming degree.
  • That’s because your attention is valuable. Whatever you focus on becomes your reality.
  • This makes life in 2021 a balancing act – how do you make purchasing decisions, the films you watch, your media diet – all of these personal aspects of your life are the trophies of an unseen battle for your attention span.
  • Our lack thereof has become accepted as a part of our lives.

2. An Invasion of Privacy

  • The World Wide Web was designed to connect people around the world for the purposes of communication, commerce and the spread of information. But people wanted more.
  • This new technology could eradicate the need for things like television, the mail system, the home phone and even the shopping mall.
  • This versatility was the undoing of its initially innocent goal.
  • A website could focus on news, entertainment, personal communication and more and it could be freely accessible.
  • Free because websites could also function as virtual billboards and sites could make money from ads, as magazines and television used to.
  • But as people spent more and more time online, these sites found they had a far more valuable resource available to them: data.
  • This information about our online habits tells companies and political entities a lot about us as people.
  • Our politics, diets and more inform them as to what we want so that they can market it back at us.

3. An Addictive Experience

  • For people raised in the internet era, internet addiction is common. And it’s designed to function in this way.
  • YouTube, Instagram and others all give us recommendations based on what we’ve engaged with previously. This means that these companies can harvest more data to make more money.
  • The casualty in all of this is our attention. You can’t do the things you need to do for yourself if you’re spending time watching an endless stream of videos.
  • What you focus on is what you develop. If your focus is going toward an overuse of social media, you’re giving your attention toward feeding a tech company with data, making them money while you waste time.

Something Worth Fighting For

All of this might sound quite doom and gloom, but it’s all about being aware of yourself and your habits. Once you realise what your attention is worth to some of the most powerful companies on earth, you’ll realise that it’s something worth keeping.

Monitor your time online and make sure you’re using the internet as it was intended to be used – to connect with family on the other side of the world, to learn new skills and languages, and to feel a sense of connection to the people around you.


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(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article mentioned above are those of the author(s). They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of ICS Career GPS or its staff.)

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