Okay, I admit it. I’ve been having a little problem in the self-control department lately. No matter what I tried to do – write an article, do research, read a book, etc. – I found myself typing the url of some distracting, time-wasting website, with Facebook being the worst offender. It was a rather bizarre feeling, as if my fingers had acquired a mind of their own. Before I knew it, I had been sucked into an internet black hole of silly videos and mindless trivia, which used up a good chunk of my time and energy.
My situation is hardly unique. In my experience as a high school and college study skills expert, I’m constantly reminded of the problems caused by excessive internet usage. On average, teens spend nine hours a day using media for entertainment – that’s more time than they spend sleeping and far more time than they spend studying. Many students use social media and other “fun” sites while they’re studying or doing homework. They may think such media multi-tasking doesn’t hurt their concentration, but study after study has shown this not to be the case. According to a pioneer in this field, the late Stanford professor Clifford Nass, “people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They’re basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking.” In a 2012 study, researchers found that using Facebook and texting in particular were associated with lower GPA. Read more