The constant desire to be up-to-date and follow the incessant stream of information popping up online could lead to gymnasium kids developing ADHD-like symptoms, according to Dorte Ågård from the Centre for Teaching and Digital Media at Aarhus University.
“A restless way of working has developed, with attention spans only lasting a few minutes," she told Kristeligt Dagblad.
"First they work on their maths assignment, have a quick look at Facebook and then back again.”
Dorte Ågård, who recently finished a PhD researching gymnasium students’ motivation and resilience, explains that the ADHD-like symptoms are a possible result of cognitive overstimulation and a lack of sleep.
Jesper Mogensen, a professor at the Institute for Psychology at the University of Copenhagen, rejects the notion that the ADHD-like symptoms mean that the students have the condition. However, he does believe that the constant overload of information undoubtedly has its dangers.
“In cases where individuals are susceptible to depression and other psychological conditions, these may be expressed due to the severe stress that cognitive overstimulation and an increasing lack of sleep places on the brain and psyche,” he told Kristeligt Dagblad.
Claus Mathiesen, a neuro-researcher from the Centre for Healthy Ageing at the University of Copenhagen, argues that the problem is not limited to gymnasium students.
As a society, he contends, we have lost our ability to exist in ‘the now’ and seem to be living in our own heads, because we are constantly filling our brains with new information.
“If we look up, feel ourselves and interact with the world around us, we will have a better life," Mathiesen told Kristeligt Dagblad.
"But it is a choice we have to make.”