And, inevitably, any discussion around child attention span gets compared to generations prior and an obvious link is made to this gist:
Kids in the 60's / 80's didn't have nearly as much screen time as they do now = that is the problem.
Perhaps, but how about considering these three other changes in the last two generations before we place all of the blame on small screens. (Never mind that children for most of the last 30 years have been glued to TVs)
#1 Global Population change
The home we all share as human beings is more full than ever before, and not just a little more full. In 1967 the world had 3 billion people, now it has 7.8 billion. By 2050 it's expected to house 9.6 billion people. How does this not affect our personal energy? There are now over 2 1967 human populations on the same planet consuming energy, creating toys, writing novels, buying homes, and generating noise and pollution.
I grew up in a community of 1,000 then spent my teens in a community of 30,000. Any kid growing up in Victoria is surrounded by 300,000 people. In Vancouver, over 3 million.
#2 Possession change
"When I was a kid..." as people are want to say, we recognize that there are more things in our household than ever before - including iPads and iPhones and 'screens' - but there's a ton of other junk too. In the 1960's not everyone had a microwave, in the 1980's there were fewer rooms in the average house and generally kids had fewer toys.
Imagine you arrived in a new country and had to learn all of the aspects of their culture. In one home stay you walk in and your host greets you and shows you all 20 possessions in her home and her three rooms, one of which is for you to stay with your host brother. Your challenge is too memorize your new home and all of the rules of operating those possessions.
Now imagine your friend goes to his home stay who is much wealthier. They have 200 possessions, due in part to their Amazon Prime subscription. Further with their added wealth and more possessions they have six rooms, with a separate room for you and your host brother.
Imagine how much more immensely difficult the task is for your friend? Is that not related to the challenge a child in 2016 surrounded by generally more affluence of possessions than generations prior, must face?
#3 Programming change
Perhaps this is a contentious one, but kids in the 60's and 80's had fewer events planned in their weeks by parents, leading to more kids in intense schedules filled with baseball, karate, Chinese lessons, yoga lessons, drum lessons, play dates, nature appreciation club, you name it.
A lot of these programming additions have been great, and some of them aided by little screens, but they - just like screens - come at the cost of throwing rocks into a river for two hours straight. Few kids can spare the free time to play in the park for hours on end, to invent imaginary play friends in their attic, or adventure in the woods for an unspecified time.
And it's not simply because their minds have been possessed by small iScreens. It's the myriad of changes that have affected our minds and bodies in the last century.
What I do know is that high-income professionals need to interact with technology constantly, that is something that you can predict in the next twenty or so years to continue to be a trend. So, knowing that, perhaps as a parent you could focus on fewer household possessions for your child to memorize, to give them a largely free calendar to fill with abundant adventures, and free space to breath and stretch out in the woods or open fields?
That's just my opinion on the matter.