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Distraction by Technology: Not Just Millennials

If you have been keeping up with my recent blogs you know that many people are calling millennials “distracted” because of their dependency on their smartphones and tablets. But millennials aren’t the only ones.

         Anyone over the age old 12 seems to have a smart phone these days, and it’s hard to walk down the street and not see dozens of people with their faces buried in them. Whether walking across the street, waiting for the bus, or even at dinner with family or friends, it’s becoming apparent that people born between 1980 and 2000 are not the only generation who are becoming obsessed with their tiny, genius devices. In this article a parent discusses their struggles when their own children confront them about their cellphone issues. He asked his daughter, “Do you feel like you are competing for attention?” To which she answered ‘yes’. Scary.

          Could these little data transmitters truly be ruling our lives? Is it possible that a parent would become so consumed by their phone that they could actually not notice their child standing right besides them?  Or miss many of those special moments that form the parent child bond over time? Those little moments end up being what kids remember.

            Catherine Stenier-Adair, a clinical psychologist at Harvard, wrote a book about this topic. She says, “Children — whether they were 4 or 8 or 18 or 24 — talked about feeling exhausted and frustrated and sad or mad trying to get their parents’ attention, competing with computer screens or iPhone screens or any kind of technology, much like in therapy you hear kids talk about sibling rivalry.”

            Although this issue is not the same as that of millennials (who are criticized for being constantly distracted, using smart phones while at work or in meetings) there is one obvious common factor: technology. As technology is impossible to avoid, we as a society need to control what we allow technology to do for us. It should enhance our ability to learn and do work but we cannot let it cross into a place of distraction and unproductiveness.

            Young people are living through a revolutionary era of technology that includes new forms of communication and engagement that will have positive and negative results. SAP should consider how they are going to tackle this obstacle. Are we going to write it off as part of changing times? Or should boundaries be implemented to ensure that work is getting done? Should SAP be the company that develops a unique perspective and possibly some innovative approaches towards a solution? It will be interesting to see how this generation changes the workplace, and whether or not it’s for the better.

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