It’s addictive.

The ding of a new email and the chirp of a new text.

All these messages just begging to be answered.

Did you know that the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London found that people constantly interrupted by e-mails and instant messages did worse in a controlled test than those intoxicated by marijuana? The author said: “The IQ loss also turns out to be temporary. Remove the multitasking requirement, and test scores jump back to normal.”

This constant listening for and checking of technology leaves us feeling over-stimulated and unfulfilled—which actually leads to more surfing and scrolling.  Ironically, we can actually hurt the relationships we DO have if we’re not intentional about focusing some of the time on what’s right in front of us.

The author of the study’s advice:

“The trick is separating periods when you need to focus diligently from periods when youre happy to be following multiple threads–the difference between old-fashioned paying attention and what multimedia pioneer Linda Stone calls “continuous partial attention.”

When my seven year old son claps like the teachers at school so I will look up and my five year old daughter whistles at me like I’m the dog, it says something.  I’m not completely there, even if I’m physically in the room.  They’ve caught on that noises, like the ones on my phone, get my undivided attention.

Does this research surprise you?  Do you think technology can eventually affect our parenting in a more permanent way?  How can we unplug to show our kids that they matter?