Attention! A World of Cell Phones and Short Attention Spans | Teen Ink

Attention! A World of Cell Phones and Short Attention Spans

June 14, 2015
By Richcoca PLATINUM, Canoga Park, California
Richcoca PLATINUM, Canoga Park, California
44 articles 5 photos 71 comments

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In the 21st century, it is natural to get lost in our electronic devices as our world is based on technology. As a way to entertain ourselves, most people use cell phones to text to others, update their status, or play games. Using primary and secondary sources gathered from online research, survey, and questioning, this report finds that cell phones have an effect on people’s attention span. It warns of the need to develop a limit of how much time we use our phones as overuse has been proven to negatively affect our attention span. However, there is also additional evidence that supports the idea that cell phones can also have positive effects on one’s attention span.


Cell phones, in this age of technology, are one of our closest friends. However, this “friend” may also be able to change the way you can or can’t focus after you’ve used your cell phone. If you have, then how? Modern research is showing that cell phones may have an effect on your attention span.

In this age of technology, the use of cell phones is nothing new, but now many reports involving cell phones and attention spans have come in. Around a decade ago, cell phones were just get out to our world, but now that they’ve gotten out, there have been changes made to society. ADHD and many other attention-span disorders are starting to wreak havoc with the rise of cell phones. Cell phones, not only may be able to dwindle the mind, but they may also be able to sharpen it. Many people have now awoken and are wandering about how their attention span has been affected by their best “friend”.

Key Findings

In our generation, phones have currently rose to the top however while phones rise to the top, people’s attention spans have fallen to the bottom. According to an article in Time Tech, “the rise in ADHD (an attention span disorder) has coincided with the rise of mobile devices (Rock).” According to reports, there could possibly be a link between a short-attention span and a cell phone.

One of the people discovering about the link between cell phones and a short-attention span is Jesse Scaccia, a New York teacher. In an interview with the New York Times Upfront, Scaccia claims that cell phones don’t belong in the classroom because cell phones don’t allow students to focus. According to Scaccia, “(at) the end of the term, a handful of students would fail the class and far too many would drop out of school. The onus failure should be placed on the distraction in the classroom, cell phones (Scaccia).”
This claim supports that phones do indeed have an effect on one’s attention span.

To the contrast, cell phones not only have a negative effect on one’s attention span but they also have a positive effect. In a different study, a reporter at the Huffington Post, “many experts suggest a better organization system will cure all. An approach that works for you is necessary but here’s a different way to think about organization, organize just enough.” This meaning that by using an organization system, such as an app or planner on your cell phone, you may increase your attention span (Hallowell). In conclusion, cell phones have both a positive and negative effect on one’s attention span.

Discussion/ Interpretation of Results

It is a fact that, among those researching and writing about the effect of cell phones on one’s attention span, there are numerous amounts of perspectives. One of the perspectives, represented by Hallowell’s article, supports the pros of cell phones on one’s attention span. Hallowell explained that by using cell phones for organization, instead of texting or playing games, your attention span may increase.

A contrasting point of view, which is supported by multiple researchers, claims that cell phones are bad for your attention span. One researcher (Rock) insists that there is a possible link between mobile devices and the amount of attention-span disorders. This is backed up by the researcher John O’ Connor that claims that children and young adults who look at screens too much, are twice as likely to suffer from attention- span disorders. Jesse Scaccia also agrees with this, stating that as a teacher she’d always notice students distracted by their cell phones and fail the class.


This research was conducted online, in the computer lab, through surveys, and e-mail. Primary and secondary sources were identified using knowledge collected using our modules.

In addition, a total of 28 people, including peers and adults, were surveyed to analyze attitudes and effects related to cell phones. The survey used a table to record data and allowed participants to provide their general opinions. The data was then organized electronically through Microsoft Excel.

Conclusion and Recommendation

While cell phones may seem to have no effect on you, this electronic device has a major impact. This is very different than what people think, thinking that cell phones are just an item that we use every day. By contrast, cell phones have both a positive and negative effect on one’s attention span. When seen in this light, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that cell phones do indeed alter with one’s attention span.

Therefore, it is recommended that further research can be conducted to explore the impact of cell phones on:
? Fitness and Health
? Ability to Socialize
? Success in school
? Behavior
It is also recommended that people follow certain regularities when using a phone:
? Limit yourself with time
? Find the balance between real-life activities and activities including your phone


Scaccia, Jesse and Ritter, Elizabeth. “Should cell phones be banned from school?”. The New York Times Upfront. Dec.11, 2006.

Selvan, Arti. “Arti Selvan”. Reality-PhillyBurbs. January 17, 2013.

Connor, John O’. “Why Mobile Devices might mean a short attention span?”. State Impact Florida. July 9, 2013.

Rock, Margaret. “A Nation of Kids with Gadgets and ADHD”. Time Tech. July 8, 2013.

Morgan, Kori. “The Pros and Cons of Cell Phone Usage in College”. Seattle Pi.

Kidd, Kelly. “Should children have cell phones?”. Helium. June 15, 2010.

Skorick, John. “Pros and Cons of Cell phones in School”. My Aka. May 1, 2013.

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