The proliferation of personal information technology and online services have radically impacted how people spend their time and attention. With numerous possible targets of attention in the digital space, attention is more fragmented, distracted, and requires more effortful control. There is considerable concern in society of the ramifications, especially related to children. Notably, digital distractions can prevent the cognitive absorption during which learning and enjoyment takes place. While theories have identified a wide array of factors of distractions, we know little about how they play out in children’s actual day-to-day digital distractions. In this paper, we conduct a pilot study to shed more light on the nature and extent of children’s digital distractions. Building on the data collection project of Kids Online, with recorded screentime by 12-year-old students from schools in Wellington, New Zealand, we first develop a coding schema to identify behaviours that should allow us to evaluate proxies of distraction. Using this we report on the application use, frequency of attentional switching, and digital distraction of 17 participants. Our paper thus establishes a platform for further studies to examine the grounds of widely held concern, and to synthesize theory on the emergence and ramifications of everyday digital distraction.
Zwanenburg, Sander Paul; Vincent, Kodie; Deng, Jeremiah; Gurtner, Marcus; Gage, Ryan; Smith, Moira; and Signal, Louise, "Kids’ Digital Distractions: An observation study of recorded everyday screentime by 12-year-olds" (2023). ACIS 2023 Proceedings. 110.