How many times have you been studying for a class when you suddenly got distracted by a new notification from Facebook on another tab?
The average age of a degree-seeking Central Oregon Community College student is 29.2 years old, and according to Andria Woodell, psychology instructor at COCC, the average attention span of an adult is 30-40 minutes.
“Most people think they can multitask very well,” Woodell said, “but in reality, multitasking divides your attention.”
Instead of multitasking, it is better for students to take short breaks so they don’t get overwhelmed, but those breaks should be scheduled in because trying to focus on multiple things will affect productivity, Woodell explained.
The information technology offices on the Bend COCC campus hold network traffic analyzer monitors which show what categories of websites are being visited by those using campus computers. This does not include the websites accessed by those using campus wireless on personal computers and mobile devices. Facebook and social networks are consistently in one of the top ten classes of websites visited.
Social media often takes up a lot of time that could be used for studying, and because of this, grades are likely to be affected by overuse of social media.
“Facebook has definitely had a negative impact on [my] school before,” said Kristian Miller, a student at COCC.
Miller admits to spending two to three hours daily on Facebook, and one to two hours on studying for classes.
For each window open on-screen while studying, whether it’s Facebook, music, or a non-school-related website you are checking periodically, your attention is getting divided and you are unable to focus entirely on what you are studying, according to Woodell. When this happens, you are less likely to give the subject the attention you need to soak it into your short-term memory, which by rehearsal can eventually become part of your long-term memory, according to Woodell.
“You have to take breaks from working every 30-40 minutes, though,” Woodell said, “or you’ll tax yourself out.”