PHOTOS © STEVE BARRETT
Digital natives are motivated by a desire to be busy
and in demand. They don’t want to miss anything.
Vorgan, 2008). Two seconds! Is this style of information gathering affecting our students’ attention spans? Absolutely.
We often refer to the kind of activity digitally connected
people engage in as multitasking. But according to many
neuroscientists (Medina, 2008), multitasking is not only
unproductive, it’s impossible. The brain can only attend to
one thing at a time. Yes, we can walk and talk simultaneously,
but those two processes don’t involve the same brain func-
tions. Walking is a procedural motor memory; because we
don’t have to think about walking, the executive part of our
brain can focus on making conversation.
The Digital Brain in Action
Let’s look at what happens in the brain of Emily, an average
teenager, as she thinks she is focusing on a homework assignment. Emily sits in front of her laptop. Her iPod is playing