Cyberslacking: When Procrastination Goes Digital

Procrastination is always been a problem for teens, but in the digital age the procrastination beast has changed.

Cyberslacking v Procrastinating or putting off an important task or activity by using technology.

Here are the most popular forms of cyberslacking:

-Cruising Facebook

-Playing Online Games

-Web surfing

-Playing phone games

-Texting or IMing friends to check-in

-Watching YouTube videos

It happens to all of us, but for teenagers it is a real problem. First, cyberslacking is far too easy to do. Because we have so many devices, cyberslacking activities beckon to us from every corner…a buzzing phone in our pocket, a pinging computer on our desk, a beeping iPad from our bag. Often times when I used to procrastinate on homework, sheer boredom would bring me back to my work. In all seriousness, I do not think I have been bored in four years—since the advent of Facebook and proliferation of IM and texting. Because I am never bored, it is hard to feel the natural inclination to go back to work, I find more and more that I have to force myself away.

Cyberslacking is also hard to avoid because we now work where we play. Teenagers write their essay on the same computer that they chat with friends. A pinging IM icon is far too tempting when working on a report. In addition, my personal and work emails mix so I, along with many others find it hard to say no to a funny YouTube video from a friend when I am supposed to be sending pitch emails.

How can we prevent cyberslacking in our own lives and with our teens? Here’s how:

1) Make Two Different Users

Make two different users for your teen on their computer—one personal one, and one school one. On the school one you can uninstall or remove from the dock any chat or IM programs. On the Internet browser you can get rid of any personal or fun bookmarks. That way teens teach themselves to literally switch modes when they are working and playing. If you are really extreme you can even install parental controls on the work user to block social sites and games.

2) Have a Far-Away Phone Charge Station

A buzzing phone is almost impossible to ignore for anyone, let alone a teenager. I recommend setting-up a charging station by the front door or in the kitchen so teens can plug their phones in while doing homework or having family meals. This way they are not inclined to check it or play games while working or sleeping.

3) Get Two Email Accounts

Separating out personal and school/professional email is becoming more and more important. Especially when Facebook sends you messages and updates to their emails. I highly recommend separating their email accounts to not get distracted. This is also helpful when applying to colleges, internships or emailing teachers.

4) Work in Chunks

Chunking is a great way to work without getting distracted or procrastinate. This is when you use a phone or egg timer to work in chunks—30 minutes on, 5 minutes off. You work very efficiently during your 30 minutes to get to your 5 minute break where you can check Facebook, texts or watch a quick video.

Cyberslacking can creep up on teens and sap away their productivity. I highly recommend having your teen keep a log of how much they are working (or not) during a typical day. Avoiding cyberslacking is also how we teach ourselves how to be attentive in life, which is a skill that is slowly disappearing in the digital age.

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4 Responses to “Cyberslacking: When Procrastination Goes Digital”

  1. Chelsea
    December 8, 2010 at 7:50 am #

    “Cyberslacking” is a new word to me, but it’s certainly descriptive! There’s a line that is often crossed between just using the net a lot and risking becoming addictive in your behavior. Check this article for more details:

  2. J.arden
    December 17, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    Teaching the kid to switch between 2 profiles is just part of the solution. True restraint will come with spending quality time with him and building his sense of responsibility through holistic education. Like dealing with procrastination, you cannot change the habit by design. The change can only come from within with the right stimulus.


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