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The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

The student news site of Robinson High School

Knight Writers

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The Teen Time Warp

Our attention spans are waning and staying focused it getting increasingly difficult in this day and age
Photo Janiece Mitchner
Illustration depicting how teenagers are held captive by screens.

The skip ten-second button on Netflix and I have become fast friends lately. Every time I settle in and try to watch a TV show, I get this urge to skip through it a bit. Oh, the characters are taking a little too long to reach a conclusion? Skip. Why won’t they just kiss already?! Skip. I’m bored, let me just go a little ahead. Skip. Skip. Skip. The length of the average teenager’s attention span is rapidly shortening and it’s caused by numerous reasons.

There’s the most apparent one: social media. The new shortened forms of content such as TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight utilize compact little videos designed to grab teenagers’ attention for all of thirty seconds before they scroll to the next. The infinite stream of content gives the apps their addicting quality and coincidentally shortens teens’ attention span and ability to remain interested. This makes long forms of content such as TV shows, movies or lecture-type videos difficult to watch to the end without getting distracted.

It also makes simply listening more difficult. It happens all the time where I’m sitting in class hearing the teacher talk and then suddenly my mind drifts and I start thinking about something else. By the time I snap out of it either the teacher has stopped lecturing or I missed valuable instructions. It’s not necessarily zoning out, it’s more like being easily distracted and having a hard time focusing.

Besides social media, the entire concept of always having a screen within your reach contributes to making teens reach boredom faster. Why would you need to know how to entertain yourself when you could have an iPad to keep you company supplying you with a vast array of games, shows and music? Why would you look through a textbook when you could just Google it and get the answer right away?

Spotify premium sales have soared with “the majority of Spotify’s revenue comes from its paying subscribers in the Premium segment, which makes up approximately 87% of its revenue” according to Yahoo Finance. This is because of the simple fact that people don’t have the patience the sit through ads anymore and can’t wait the necessary thirty seconds before getting bored and giving up.

When I was younger, I was addicted to reading and could read for hours on end without even lifting my head. Now, even though I still love to read, I have a hard time sitting down and starting a book without getting distracted. A single notification could lead to a fifteen-minute distraction, derailing my plans.

Even without technology, I find myself becoming increasingly scatterbrained where I hop from one task to another forgetting to finish something before starting another. My thought process goes seemingly like this: “I should probably start doing my math homework. Oh look my friend texted me, she wants to hang out on Saturday, so I should check my work schedule. Wow, those flowers look really dry let me go water them. Ugh why is the kitchen such a mess I should wash some of the dishes. Oh look here’s the jacket I’ve been trying to find for forever, let me go hang it up in the closet. My nails look so chipped I need to redo them. Wait if I want to wear a good outfit tomorrow I should do the laundry right now.” On and on and on until it’s time to go to bed and my math homework remains undone.

Today, the average person’s attention span is forty-seven seconds and decreased by one hundred and three seconds from 2004, according to, Gloria Mark, Ph.D. One of the bigger causes is a notion called sleep debt.

“If you need eight hours of sleep a night but you’re only getting six hours a night, that difference is called a sleep debt. And we know that the greater the sleep debt, the shorter the attention spans. And what do people do when they have a lot of sleep debt? We found that they tend to do more lightweight activities like social media. They just don’t have the resources to be able to focus and do hard work, so they do what’s easy based on the amount of resources that they have available,” Mark said.

Even with the drastic setbacks in our ability to focus, I believe we still have the ability to improve and with effort, we can slow down the teen time warp. Shortened content intake, less time with screens and more sleep are just some of the ways you can take back the time lost and finally focus.

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About the Contributors
Anika Sanka, Staff Writer
Anika Sanka is a sophomore at Robinson and a staff writer of Knight Writers. This is her first year on staff. Sanka was brought to Journalism by her interest in creative writing and expressing her opinions through writing. An opinionated storyteller, Sanka favors opinion pieces where she can emphasize what she feels most passionate about. "I think stories where you can tell the reader is interested in and passionate about what they are writing about are much more enjoyable reads. That's why I like opinion pieces," Sanka said. Outside of the newsroom, Sanka enjoys AP European History and Biology class, which she misses from last year. She likes science, just not when math is involved. Sanka finds much time to avoid math by reading, dancing, attending meetings at the YMCA Leaders program or attending track practice. "Practice is five days a week and we have meets most weeks. It's kind of hard but pretty rewarding overall. Running recreationally to uplifting playlists is one of my [favorite] things to do," Sanka said In her free time Sanka enjoys going thrifting, shopping at her favorite store, Trader Joe's, or watching trashy, early '00s kid's movies. Some of her favorites include "A Cinderella Story," "She's That Man" and "How To Train Your Dragon." She loves trashy teen movies because she finds the predictable cliches and bad dialogue funny. When Sanka gets home and is ready to wind down from the day, she indulges in her favorite sweet treats, which are often chocolate based. "The thought of watching "Shameless" and eating a snack after school is the only thing that gets me through the day," Sanka said. Another one of Sanka's motives to get through the day is daydreaming about traveling, which she loves to do whenever she can. She wishes to one day go to Thailand because she wants to experience a culture that is extremely diverse from ours, and she loves their food. Sanka is excited for her future, but hasn't decided what she wants to be yet. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do, but I'll see where newspaper takes me," Sanka said.  
Janiece Mitchner, Senior Staff Writer
Janiece Mitchner is a junior at Robinson and a senior staff writer for Knight Writers. This is her second year on staff. While Mitchner was placed in journalism by chance, she has enjoyed the last year making drawings for the newspaper. "Since I suck at writing, I draw for the newspaper," Mitchner said. Mitchner has been drawing for five years and hopes to earn the Florida Scholastic Press Association (FSPA) Artist of the Year award in the future. "I usually draw characters, superheroes, anime characters and generally whatever looks interesting to me. It calms me when I draw and listen to music," Mitchner said. Besides art, Mitchner enjoys relaxing, volunteering for Girl Scouts and listening to music; particularly, her all-time favorite artist is Justin Bieber. The rest of Mitchner's time not designated towards art, school and music is put towards working at Qdoba, where she tends to work 20 hours a week. Mitchner has had to move multiple times due to her dad's military obligations. She has been living in Tampa for the last two years but does miss her last home in North Dakota. "Moving to Tampa has been kind of hard for me," Mitchner admitted. "I definitely miss having some snow, I'd rather be cold than hot." Besides North Dakota, Mitchner has also lived in Texas at two different times. Despite the numerous moves, Mitchner has stayed close with her family, including her younger brother and sister. Janiece, however, draws her ultimate inspiration from her mother. "She is my role model and is always able to balance all my siblings' requests. She's also very good at managing her time," Mitchner said. Mitchner is looking forward to graduating next year and plans to continue doing art actively as well as go on the culinary trip to Japan. "I hope that by the end of high school, my artwork will be in an art portfolio for college," Mitchner said. Profile by (Anika Sanka)
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