Obama Gets It! The Negative Side-Effects of Digital Distractions

On today’s Huffington Post, the headline for Obama’s commencement speech is: “Obama: iPad, Xbox Turn Information Into A ‘Distraction’.” In his speech he is quoted as saying:

“And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

I couldn’t agree more. Although I’d never dream of renouncing our digital devices [they’re so useful in so many ways that they’re essential], they represent a challenge to getting much done, to thinking creatively, and to managing our stress levels. Because we’re always connected, we’re usually multitasking and we’re constantly being interrupted. These things are a great drain on our productivity. The ensuing information overload blocks our creativity and increases our stress.

Young people (and the rest of us) need to learn how to integrate these devices into a lifestyle that moderates their impact. If you understand how the brain works, you can have the best of both worlds.

The conclusion of Conquer CyberOverload is this: The bottom line is balance: You can be successful and happy by alternating between intense focus and breaking away, between connectedness and solitude, and between hard work and relaxation.

We need to get this message to students as well as to people who want to contribute to the economic, social, and political vitality of this country.

One Response to Obama Gets It! The Negative Side-Effects of Digital Distractions
  1. Ran
    December 16, 2010 | 1:37 pm

    Dear Joanne,

    I totally agree to your synopsis. We at Canfocus think there are better solutions than just banning technology – we must build new tools that will help us use technology for our benefit and not just overwhelm us. We encourage you to join the discussion we are trying to start on how this can best be done. We’ve issued a call for Opinions on our Blog and are hoping to get some good ideas – http://www.canfocus.com/?p=557

    I am going to order your book now!