Why kids get distracted by their own brains?

Author: Anders Christian Hjort

Well, first I was alarmed in my heart and soul seeing the impact of social media and smartphone technology have on people interactive and social skills.

Then I read the latest blog from Daniel Goleman on how the brain works and how new technology and smartphones distracts and defocus our kids learning experience.

We see kids play with iPads, smartphones, computers having a focus of dedication and eyes, minds and souls “into the machine” – wired to the internet – unconditionally connected to friends and an abundant flow of information and data that trigger their minds and brains in mysterious ways.

I had a few real friends when I was a kid – and we had great fun playing in the gardens, stealing apples from the neighbors trees etc.

Today a networks enables kids to reach out into another kind of friendship, supplementing the physical one getting recognition for other skills, than the physical ones.

Play is a different story – and learning new important skills in the existing school systems are challenging both teacher, parents and our kids, as they learn faster using their own pace on their iPad, PC or smartphone.

Teachers and parents struggle to follow this revolution in learning.

No doubt a major change in behaviour is going on.

Here and present – There and distant?

Having KidsTextingyour “pet” device at arms length now – and soon in your vains… caressing the screen of your tablet or smartphone is for sure, stimulating your brain – no doubt. It seems like a drug to both kids and parents.

Look in the streets, in busses, trains, airports, canteens – everywhere you see people staring into their “device”... Neck bended slightly, texting, waiting for the next reaction, or initiating the next interaction, getting emotionally upset due to a rude comment from a friend.

The message in a bottle?

Many years ago as a kid, I was excited by sending a message in a bottle over the oceans and waiting for the response from a total stranger – it never came – but still remember the excitement.

Today kids do the same, however the message travels with the speed of gigabits over the oceans, and makes the experience of being connected “to the world” even more exciting to their human brains.

Are our brains in fact wired to do this and distract us from having real conversations in the line of sight?

“The silent message to all of us”

This youtube video “The silent message to all of us” carries the same picture of new behavioural patterns, and made me stop and think why is this?

The video is spot on!

How about you?

Is this you?

Is this your kids?

Is this the new way of interacting?

Can you do anything to cheat your brain away from this?

Daniel Goleman brings some insights to this important phenomena, explaining how our brains work, and how it impacts the focus and learning for our kids – and ourselves as parents and grown-up “brains”.

Have a go on this brilliant and insightful blog he made on LinkedIN this week:

What Helps Kids Focus Better – and Why They Need Help

Author: Daniel Goleman

The other day a kid rode by, texting while riding down the street on his bike. I saw a group of kids in a fast-food joint having lunch. Instead of talking and just having fun together they were each absorbed in a tablet or smartphone. They may as well have been alone.


A middle-school teacher complains her recent crop of students haven’t been able to understand the textbooks nearly as well as those in previous years.

Our tech – tablets, texts, Facebook, tweets, you name it – has changed childhood. And that has huge implications for how our kids’ brains develop the ability to pay attention – and to learn.

Kids learn best when they can maintain sustained attention, whether to what a teacher is saying, their textbook, or their homework. The root of learning is keen focus; distractions kill comprehension. 

But the new normal for young people continually interrupts their focus with distractions.

This is particularly alarming in light of very strong research results showing that a child’s ability to resist the temptation of distraction and stay focused predicts how she will fare financially and health wise in adulthood.

Some call it “self-control”, others “grit” or “delay of gratification.” It boils down to the tenacity to keep your eyes on your goal (or schoolwork) and resist impulse and distraction.

Neuroscientists tell us this crucial mental ability hinges on the growth of a neural strip in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, just behind the forehead, which connects to circuitry that helps manage both attention and unruly emotions. This circuitry grows with the rest of the brain from birth throughout childhood and the teen years.

The more a youngster can practice keeping her focus and resist distraction, the stronger and more richly connected this neural real estate becomes. By the same token, the more distracted, the less so.

This mental ability is like a muscle: it needs proper exercise to grow strong.

One way to help kids: give them regular sessions of focusing time, the mental equivalent of workouts in the gym.

I’ve seen this done in schools, with second-graders becoming calm and concentrated with a daily session of watching their breath – the basic training in bringing a wandering mind back to a single focus.

And parents who help kids do this at home will be doing them – and their prefrontal cortex – a favor.

Learn some guided exercises to help young people sharpen their attention skills with my CDs Focus for Kids: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm and Focus for Teens: Enhancing Concentration, Caring and Calm.

About Daniel Goleman

Daniel Coleman

Daniel Goleman lectures frequently to business audiences, professional groups and on college campuses. A psychologist who for many years reported on the brain and behavioral sciences for The New York Times, Dr. Goleman previously was a visiting faculty member at Harvard.

Dr. Goleman’s most recent books are The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights (www.MoreThanSound.net) and Leadership: The Power of Emotional Intelligence (www.MoreThanSound.net). In the first, he reviews recent findings from neuroscience and how they inform our understanding of emotional intelligence. In Leadership he has collected together in a single volume his key work on the topic from his books and articles and his articles in the Harvard Business Review.


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