Attention & Focus Icon

Why can’t kids concentrate?

Girl not concentrating on her homework in her room

Did you know that studies show that in a single classroom more than 70% of children will have difficulties with focusing and paying attention? Seven out of ten; that’s an awfully high number.

Teen eating breakfast, talking on a cell and working on the computer

Do all these kids truly have ADD or is there something else going on?

Consider our modern lifestyle and the role it plays in the lifestyle of today’s kids. Kids live in a world that moves at a faster pace than ever. They are exposed to more media images, faster sound bites, and can use multiple media outlets simultaneously. They can text message, type, use video controllers, cell phones, iPods, MP3 players, and Blackberries. They learn faster, adapt better, and multiprocess at a rate that no other generation before has ever been able to, or ever had to do.

Not sure about this? Watch some shows that are popular with kids—MTV for instance. Play a few video games. Use chat programs.

In a fast-paced world

The world of today’s kids is fast-paced and ever-changing. It jumps around from image to image, sound to sound, never lingering long in one place or on a single idea image or thought. There is no break in the stream of sound, images, or conversation. There is no breathing room.

On average, the typical TV program changes cuts (the time that the camera stays on the same focus or viewpoint) every 3-4 seconds. Video games, music videos, cartoons and even movies all move at this break-neck speed. These short sound bites do little to help develop a child’s attention span.

So these same kids who live a fast-moving, multiprocessing life are, on a daily basis, put in a classroom where they are expected to sit still and focus on a single thought, person, or image for a long stretch of time. That’s a major downshift for the child.

Is it any wonder that 70% of them are having difficulty staying on task, focusing, and paying attention? When are we actually taking the time to teach children how to pay attention? Just like reading, spelling, and writing, paying attention is a skill that children need to learn, practice and perfect.

Is the education system not doing enough to keep up with how quickly kids live their lives? Are we asking too much of today’s kids to sit still and singularly focus? Or is there really an epidemic of kids with symptoms like ADD/ADHD?

There are no real answers—only a good starting point. Let’s begin by asking some important questions about children’s attention spans, the media environment, and the state of the education.

We welcome your feedback!

Find an Oxford Learning® Location Near You!

We Have Over 100 Centres Across Canada!
Contact A Location

Our Privacy Policy has been updated to meet new regulations. Please read it here.