There is no doubt that in this digital age, distractions are everywhere. It is difficult to focus with diverse information bombarding you on every side, both online and offline.
When you talk about online distractions, social media is the chief source. From social media notifications from multiple platforms to endless streams of content, staying focused has become a daunting challenge, which everyone should surmount to succeed in this era.
It is even more grave when you realise that the people most affected by these distractions are the youth, the emerging generation on whose shoulders the future of nations rests. Every leader needs to ask this question: how can we curb the distractions plaguing the emerging generation so that they can avoid spending their lives on the wrong things and become a burden to themselves and others?
Is it possible to help young people master the art of concentration, which is crucial for productivity and spiritual and mental well-being? Can we get the emerging generation to focus on the important things and jettison the distractions that consume their time, money, intellect, sound mind, etc?
Let’s look at a few strategies and techniques that could help the emerging generation curb distractions and live focused and purposeful lives.
It is true that with the emergence of the internet, smartphones and digital technologies have revolutionised everything: communication, governance, work, entertainment, sports, etc. While these technological advancements have brought numerous benefits, they’ve also ushered in an era of unprecedented distraction. The constant barrage of notifications, emails, and social media updates has shortened attention spans and made it increasingly difficult to concentrate on tasks for an extended period. It is now a pandemic that calls for the type of global attention COVID-19 had.
The impact of distractions on the emerging generation is profound. Studies have shown that excessive screen time and multitasking can impair cognitive function, diminish productivity, and contribute to feelings of anxiety.
Furthermore, constant exposure to digital stimuli can hinder the development of critical thinking skills and impede academic performance. Its impact on human behaviour and relationships is well documented. Smartphone or social media addiction has become one of the top causes of strain in relationships. We must take it seriously.
To effectively tackle distractions, we should first identify the most common culprits. Social media platforms like Instagram,
Snapchat and TikTok are addictive, often leading users down the rabbit hole of endless scrolling. Also, email and messaging apps such as WhatsApp create a sense of urgency, prompting individuals to constantly check for new messages often, consuming ample productive time. Additionally, the allure of streaming services, online gaming, and YouTube videos can derail even the best-laid plans for productivity.
To solve this problem, people need to take responsibility at all levels. Young people need to realise how much the distractions they are given to rob them and make critical decisions, especially in this first quarter of the year. Parents have a role to play, such as guiding children early to form the habit of focusing on the things that matter.
The government can evolve educational policies that can help and support campaigns and causes on youth development. Generally, leaders in all spheres, especially religious leaders, can do a lot to help the emerging generation focus. It is a collective responsibility everyone needs to be aware of.
There are a few things one can do as an individual. One is to set clear boundaries around the use of technology. Designate specific times of the day for checking emails and social media, and avoid using electronic devices during meals or before bedtime. You can create tech-free zones where concentration is paramount, such as the study or workstations.
The second thing you can do is to study to be quiet and to do your business as Apostle Paul wrote in First Thessalonians chapter 4 verse 11. It is important to practise being silent and meditating. It is the discipline of focusing your attention on the inside, quietening your mind, and ruminating on God’s word and inspiration. Schedule a regular quiet time, praying time, and even thinking time. Retreat and be alone once in a while.
We should teach the emerging generation the importance of time management and treating things based on set priorities. They should be encouraged to use to-do lists and planners to organise tasks and allocate time effectively. By identifying high-priority tasks and breaking them down into smaller, manageable steps, individuals can avoid feeling overwhelmed and stay focused on their goals.
Contrary to what many believe, multitasking is not altogether a plus. It can be a recipe for inefficiency. Encourage the practice of single-tasking, where individuals focus on one task at a time with full attention and intention. By immersing themselves fully in the present activity, they can achieve greater productivity and quality of work.
In dealing with distractions, one should build a support network of friends, family members, or peers who share similar goals and can provide invaluable encouragement and accountability. Encourage open communication and collaboration, where individuals can share their challenges and successes in managing distractions. Accountability always helps.
These are just a few strategies young people can employ to reclaim control of their attention and cultivate a greater sense of purpose and productivity.
Other kinds of distractions which have to do with character and lifestyle, such as pornography, sexual immorality, gambling, sports betting, cyber-crime, drug abuse and others, require more in-depth and comprehensive approaches and, in many cases, divine intervention. We will hopefully look at them subsequently. Have a fruitful February.
Reverend Austin Ukporhe is the Point Man at Remnant Christian Network, Lagos. Raised in Sokoto, northern Nigeria, he was trained in peculiar firebrand evangelism and was ordained as a pastor in 2001. He has experienced countless and diverse workings of the faithfulness of God over two decades and has developed a passion to see God’s will for Nigeria become a reality.