The internet is a place full of information and entertainment. Social media, scholarly research, games, radio, and video productions are all on the web. For better or worse, with emerging smartphone technologies, we're nearly constantly connected to the internet in some form or another. An endless supply of knowledge and fun at your fingertips... anytime... anywhere; you can do almost anything. This allure is not only distracting, but potentially harmful.
When reading Is Google Making Us Stupid? (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/6868/), I realized I'm having these same problems! In a nutshell, the article says that with so much information at our disposal that is only a click away, people are having a harder time doing more deep reading/learning. Many people complain of no longer being able to focus on a particular source of information for as long as they once could. I find myself a victim of this same phenomenon. For example, in our online class this week, I was originally interested in listening to the radio cast that was posted; it would have made for a nice change of pace from the usual learning. That was until I realized it was 30 minutes long; 30 minutes! It isn't that 30 minutes is an excessive amount of time, but in the fast paced world of the internet, 30 minutes is equivalent to days.
Of course, this shortened attention span that has been developing in people as a consequence of the internet is leading to a number of unwelcome phenomenon. First of all, many students in classrooms are finding it much more difficult to pay attention than in years past. You can tune in to the news from around the world, play a quick game, network with friends, etc. Many people cannot resist these temptations. Howard Rheingold, in an effort to develop a curriculum about attention and attention in the classroom, has been taking videos of his students and analyzing their behaviors. Here is one of his videos: http://blip.tv/file/730117/ . In this video, you can see how students look from the professor's perspective. As you can see, many students with methods of distracting themselves are indeed doing so. Now, maybe not every student whose head is buried in their laptops isn't paying attention, but even multitasking limits the amount you can learn and take in from any one source.
Now, what is it exactly that is so distracting to people on the web? Sure, everybody knows about email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. However, there are many other websites that have discovered the secret to increasing their web traffic: by exploiting our short attention spans. But what are some of the exceedingly dangerous websites that are taking advantage of their users' shortened attention spans? Here are a few for your own entertainment... should you choose to open Pandora's box.
***Warning: If You Are An Easily Distracted Person, Stop Reading Now!***
News of all kinds, from anywhere in the world, often before it is reported officially
Wikipedia... might I suggest the "random article" button!
StumbleUpon is an extremely addictive, self-proclaimed "discovery engine". It learns what types of things you enjoy on the web and recommends web pages for you to visit.
Funny cat pictures and videos
Addicting games, as would be expected, from the following link