Take your eyes off the screen

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Take your eyes off the screen


I used to have what Koreans call a “heavy bottom.” When I had something that interested me, I used to get absorbed for hours without moving at all. The patience and tenacity have certainly helped me throughout my career. But nowadays I just cannot concentrate as much. As I grow older, my patience, tenacity and concentration have declined considerably.

The tendency of modern people unable to concentrate on one job for more than 15 minutes is referred to in Korea as quarterism. And it suits my behavior perfectly. My attention span has shortened because there are so many things I need to care about. But a more fundamental cause is that I am getting increasingly timid, and that makes my mind more complicated.

Another cause is the smartphone. Ever since I got this nuisance, my bottoms have gotten lighter. I habitually touch the screen to check text messages and e-mails and read news feeds. So I cannot focus on other jobs, and the workflow is disturbed constantly. I am concerned I may develop emotional insecurity.

According to research, children who use mobile phones are at a higher risk of suffering from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The children who use mobile phones for 30 to 70 hours a week are 4.4 times more likely to have symptoms of ADHD than the children who use the phone for less than 30 hours. The Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute surveyed 2,400 children in 10 cities around the country. It is an alarming report not just for the parents whose children are hooked on mobile phones but also to the grownups, too.

Attention deficiency often leads to various accidents. Many children and adults are texting while they are walking on the street. The sight makes me uneasy as they may get into accidents. Some towns in the United States impose fines on texting while walking. Fort Lee in northern New Jersey imposes a fine of $85 on people who are caught texting while walking, a penalty equivalent to jaywalking. The city implemented the policy after several serious pedestrian accidents associated with mobile phone usage. It is certainly an effective solution to prevent accidents caused by inattention. A few days ago, Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google, gave a commencement speech at Boston University and urged the students to take a break from smartphone usage. “Take one hour a day and turn that thing off. Take your eyes off that screen and look into the eyes of the person you love.”

*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Bae Myung-bok
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