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1 big thing: The "popcorn brain" effect

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The endless barrage of texts, news alerts, likes and comments is chipping away at our ability to focus.

  • Zoom in: One term for the effect is "popcorn brain," describing how we shift focus from one distraction to the next, The New York Post notes.

👀 Stunning stat: The average amount of time something on our screens can hold our attention before we jump to something else is just 47 seconds, according to Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at UC Irvine.

  • And it's been shrinking. Back in 2012, the average attention span was 75 seconds. In 2004, it was 2.5 minutes.

Zoom out: It's not just the pings that make us reach for screens and activate "popcorn brain."

  • Most of us check our phones every 15 minutes or so, regardless of notifications, CNBC reports.

What's next: There are a slew of digital detox strategies you can try yourself or with family and friends, from silencing notifications to hosting phone-free dinners.

  • One more trick is to be more intentional about solitude.

Many of us scroll on our screens when we're spending time alone — and we can cut back on that by trying to make the most of the solo time instead of letting it pass us by.

  • While endless scrolling can leave us feeling lonely and disconnected, a deliberate solitary activity — like going for a walk or making a delicious lunch — can recharge us, The New York Times reports.

✉️ We want to hear from you! How do you spend your screen-free me-time? Tell us, including your name and hometown, at [email protected] to be featured in a future newsletter.

⛰️ 17 parks in 16 months

Mountains
Inside Death Valley National Park. Photo: Lauren May

"During my gap year between college and law school, I had the opportunity to do several national park trips, visiting 17 parks in 16 months and bringing my grand total to 22 parks visited," writes reader Lauren May in New York City.

  • "One of my favorite things to do when I visit a national park is to become a Junior Ranger. The ranger stations provide booklets for children to fill out with activities that teach them about the park, but they're open to adults too!
A badge
Photo: Lauren May

"Once completed, you bring the booklet back to the ranger, and they administer an oath and bestow a Junior Ranger badge upon you. It's a way to add some additional childlike joy when visiting the parks!"