Are We Creating ADD?
Definition of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) – characterized by a persistent pattern of impulsiveness, a short attention span, and often hyperactivity.
Are we creating ADD? From a scientific perspective, this question seems ludicrous. From a logical perspective, however, it’s not too far-fetched.
So, let us ask – as a society, are we creating ADD?
(For those of you, who do not have the attention to read the entire post, skip to the end – What to Do? Section 🙂 )
I just heard on the news recently that the new Apple iPhone OS7 interface is giving some people vertigo and others motion sickness due to the fast moving images and rapidly changing screens. The market is panning the interface at this point. It seems our eyes and brains are not up to the speed of the newest technology. Hasn’t this been the case for a while now.
If you view an old 7-Up commercial from the 1980’s on Youtube, you can see the image changes
Now view a commercial from the 1990’s
Now, a Pepsi commercial from 10 years ago…..
The image changes are much slower in the older commercials. Imagine how our eyes have to focus and our brains have to integrate each image to capture the message in a simple commercial. Now think about how much more fast paced everything in life is than 30 years ago.
We can look at technology, our fast paced life styles, food choices and even toxins in our environment when contemplating our ability to curb impulsiveness, be attentive and concentrate.
So, seriously, are we creating ADD?
First, let’s look at technology. I am dating myself here, but in the 1970’s & 80’s, there were almost no computers at home and video games were mostly played at the arcade. There were no cell phones, instant messaging, email or other social media. Homes did not have televisions in every room along with tablets or electronic reading devices and research was done with encyclopedias at home or at the library.
Think about how our brains have to function to keep up with all of the ways technology has ‘advanced and enhanced’ our lives. Our brains are required to process messages, information and images coming from multiple sources.
We need to process messages coming into our lives from our landlines, cell phones, & work phones (if different), text messaging, emails, Twitter and on Facebook or Instagram.
We can retrieve information electronically either via pull on the Internet or push via email, Twitter, etc. When we conduct a search on Google or another search engine, thousands of pages come up with ads popping up on the top, bottom and sides of the screen. As fast as our fingers can type, we change the screens and scan the information in front of us. This information is in multiple formats, audio, images and words and on all parts of the screen. How is our brain processing all of this information at once? How can we concentrate on one thing?
What if our brains were not fully developed or not used to flexing that concentration muscle? What if our brains were not developed having to focus our attention on only one thing as everything is always presented at once.
Think about our children. How are our children’s brains developing under these conditions? How can they NOT have ADD? How can they NOT have an issue with giving one thing their attention or their ability to concentrate?
Seriously, think about the information they are required to process at once – ALL OF THE TIME.
I think as a nation, we are indeed, developing ADD. I know for me, I now have a harder time focusing on one thing than I used to and I have to fight the urge to check email messages while watching TV. I have started to get jittery when I am only doing one thing at a time.
When working, I limit the programs open on my laptop at one time and urge my clients to close down their email program when trying to get an important ‘heads down’ work done while in the office. For the same reason, you may close your office door, you want to close that door for messages by closing programs when possible.
However, during ‘free’ time, I am less vigilant. I find myself getting sucked into reading the online news, surfing Facebook, looking up random ‘facts’ online and basically distracting myself into oblivion. How much time are we wasting? (Okay, that’s a WHOLE different topic.) But, how distracted are we making ourselves just because information is available to us? Or how distracted are we because we can communicate to each other in multiple ways at the SAME TIME?
How often are you answering a phone call while reading your email? How frequently do you text while conducting a conversation with someone physically in front of you?
How often is your focus scattered because there is just SO much availability of messages, information and images in front of you at any given time?
That’s just technology. What about lifestyle? How fast do you move through your days? How many times are you in the car driving from school-to-work-to-home-to activity-to-work-to….? How many times are you eating in the car or while standing at the kitchen counter (islands count)? How often is your mind racing through your daily schedule or list of to-do’s every single day? How often are you distracted when talking to someone else?
When was the last time you cleared your mind, sat down and focused COMPLETELY on the task before you? When was the last time you sat down and did nothing? When was the last time you fully exhaled? When was the last time you meditated
Now think of our children. Certainly and hopefully, they do not have so many different things pulling at them – work, family, home, however, they have a lot of things going on. From what I have observed, their schedules are pretty full with school, homework and activities. As they get older, these full schedules bump up against the pull of social connection; media and otherwise.
How much sleep do we get as a society? According to the National Institutes of Health, 50 to 70 million Americans are affected by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems that can significantly diminish health, alertness and safety.
We are often too busy to get enough sleep as either we go to bed later (presumably to get more done) or our minds are racing as we try to fall asleep or we wake up in the middle of the night with our minds awake and active.
Are our bodies programmed to be on hyper alert engaging with multiple things all at once only then to fall immediately into bed shut down immediately? I don’t think so. I think it’s a process. I think there is a slow-down process that should happen to honor our bodies and our minds in their transition from wake to sleep.
Our minds are like computers that process everything it has seen, read or heard in any given day and as we increase the input, the process must take longer and be harder. So if we want to have a restful night sleep, I think we need to limit our exposure to all of this available input.
What about our food choices? As we are running around trying to keep up, what are we feeding our children and ourselves? I am not discussing the nutritional aspects of food as this is covered in the 3 posts specifically about nutrition.
But, food as nourishment for our bodies and our souls, as an event to gather together, as a part of meal times to discuss our days and share our hopes, dreams and ideas. As a sensory memory reserve for smells, tastes and textures that we can conjure up to remember good times.
I’m talking about food as a luxury, not something to be plowed through to get ourselves into our next busy activity.
Cook it, plan it, savor it, share it. Food for our children to leisure over, pick at or devour, whatever their bodies dictate – food in this way, in the healthy & fun way.
There must be a toxin component to our mind and development. There are increasing toxins in our environment due to the way we produce ever-increasing amounts of goods, eliminate insects, manicure our lawns and ingest our portable liquids. There are also toxins as we inject into our bodies with vaccinations to prevent natural diseases.
These toxins must have an effect, how could they not?
What to Do?
We have to remind ourselves that just because we have the ABILITY to do everything, it doesn’t mean that we SHOULD. We can change our habits.
- We can choose to limit our exposure to our screens. We can turn them off.
- We can stop ourselves from trying to do 3 things at once all of the time.
- We can realize that most of us are not brain surgeons and that it is not a matter of life and death if we ignore our email for a few hours.
- We can get into a good bedtime routine to slow our minds and transition more easily from awake to sleep.
- We can create mealtimes with yummy food to share ourselves with our loved ones.
- We can let weeds grow on our lawns.
- We can take a few really deep breaths every few minutes.
SLOW DOWN. Sure, there’s a little ‘giggy’ that goes with this until you get used to slowing down, but keep at it.