Retrieve and Create Focus

Focusing on Schoolwork in the age of the iPhone

Digital tools like computers, tablets and smartphones are incredible and exciting portals to deep learning and knowledge, especially for children. With a single click of a search button, children have access to the remote mountains of the Himalayas, the latest scientific research, documentaries on the Mars expedition, and on and on; a seemingly endless amount of information about anything and everything.

A digital native in his natural habitat.


Yet, as any parent knows, these very same devices are often the source of the 3Ts : Tears, Tantrums and Time-outs, especially when children are asked to stop their digital screen time and focus on their homework.

Naturally, digital devices often become the target of the ire of many a parent: blamed for destroying the attention spans of today’s children, for distracting them from focusing on their studies, from family conversations, and the source of many exasperated sighs: ‘Can’t you go a single minute without being on your phone?’

We know the situation looks dire where homework is concerned, parents, but there are in fact, very simple solutions to support children in remaining focused and on task in this era of digital distractions. But first, let’s understand today’s digital natives and how their brains are wired.

“Homework is so boring!”

Have you ever noticed a baby trying to “swipe” a picture in a magazine? If so, you know their young brains have had exposure to smart devices. Every tap gives them a response of sounds, colours, and fast-paced action - a big dose of sensory stimulation for their growing brains to process. The baby’s brain will quadruple in weight by age 6 (Brown & Jernigan, 2013), and should the same baby continue to have high-levels of exposure to media, as many American children do, up to a whopping 7 hours a day (Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010), she or he may begin to feel like this high level of stimulat