When We Need Apps Like "Smart Silence"
|Smart Silence: SIlent Scheduler, Developer: Waylon Brown|
With too many distractions, task switching becomes a real burden to any brain. Reading a book to learn is already a challenging task for a mind. It sometimes takes effort just to begin studying. Being interrupted means additional work. One has to find oneself back to where the distraction occurs, requiring another step of familiarization. Without focus, a brain activity simply requires longer times. The studies cited in the above previous posts in this blog all point to the fact that switching tasks slow down the brain. The additional task of switching and familiarization exact from the brain not just time, but also energy. How many of the text messages, posts on Facebook, or phone conversations, are really of critical thinking and academic language? These distractions not only take a student away from the learning task at hand, but also deals with an entirely different universe, different rules, different vocabulary. Alternating between different worlds is like alternating between different languages. It is not only confusing but also tiring. The brain wears down and makes mistakes. Memory is likewise sacrificed during switching tasks. Committing something to one's mind during learning is a delicate process that requires undivided attention. Try memorizing someone's phone number while someone recites numbers randomly. Distraction works against memory. Students who open their laptops during class to check their emails or Facebook account, or do some online shopping, should be also made aware that they not only distract themselves, but also those who are seated near them, who just happen to have their eyes on the screen. This alone distracts other students, preventing them from paying full attention to a lecture. All of these have some physical basis as suggested by a 2006 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, "Modulation of competing memory systems by distraction" (by Karin Foerde, Barbara J. Knowlton, and Russell A. Poldrack) :