Staying Connected without Losing Focus
by Terri R. Kurtzberg and Jennifer L. Gibbs
April 2017, 178pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4295-5
$41, £31, 36€, A56
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4296-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Ironically, with the takeover of smartphones, tablets, and other screens in our daily lives—at work, at home, on the go, and even late at night—many people are getting less done due to lack of focus.

What are the benefits and negative consequences of our increased connectivity at school, at work, and at home? Is being constantly distracted now a worldwide problem? This book examines how new technologies and social pressures have changed the way we use our attention, and the extent to which they drive us to distraction, by interpreting hundreds of scientific studies from the literatures in cognitive and social psychology, sociology, communication, management, and decision making.

While distraction is ever-present in daily life, staying connected in an efficient way is the goal for one and all. To accomplish that, some amount of fine-tuning of typical interactions with technology is in order. Nearly everyone recognizes the addictive nature of constant connectivity—and its destructive effect on productivity and quality of work. But the availability of technology also promotes better engagement, control, and flexibility in both professional and personal settings. An in-depth analysis of these tradeoffs can lead to smarter choices about when and how to be connected throughout the day and across settings. The ultimate objective is to have technology enhance our lives without serving as a source of constant distraction.

Distracted: Staying Connected without Losing Focus explains the nuances of what this addiction stems from—considering both societal and technological factors—and identifies both the invaluable opportunities and the counterproductive consequences of living in our technology-enabled, instant-access-to-everything world. The chapters examine a wide swath of scientific research to expose how technology use affects our attention and the extent to which it causes distraction. Authors Terri Kurtzberg and Jennifer Gibbs apply the science of human attention to reveal how specific areas of our lives are significantly changed with the advent of “continuous connectedness,” including in the workplace, in personal relationships, in childhood development, and with regard to education and learning. Readers will clearly understand why multitasking fails us, what the consequences are—to ourselves and those around us—of being focused on a screen for much of the day, and how each of us can adjust our use of technology in order to improve our lives.


  • Offers a comprehensive and insightful understanding of how technology use in daily life affects our attention, our work performance, and our relationships
  • Describes how to get and keep the attention of others in a distracted, mobile-device enabled world
  • Explains benefits of multitasking as well as how it limits our abilities to process information and make good decisions
  • Addresses the connections between constantly being distracted and trying to multitask to the near crisis-level trend of unused vacation time in America and explains why this phenomenon hurts everyone
Terri R. Kurtzberg, PhD, is associate professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School, Newark and New Brunswick, NJ. She is author of Virtual Teams: Mastering Communication and Collaboration in the Digital Age and coauthor of The Essentials of Job Negotiations: Proven Strategies for Getting What You Want. Kurtzberg is the recipient of multiple teaching and research awards. Her research has been quoted in numerous media outlets, such as The New York Times, Fortune magazine, and CNN.com, as well as on the BBC World Service and CBS Radio.

Jennifer L. Gibbs, PhD, is professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has published more than 40 articles and chapters in leading journals and books in the fields of communication and management. Gibbs has conducted intercultural and global teams consulting and training in multinational corporations and for professional audiences, and is regularly interviewed and quoted in a variety of media outlets, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and WNYC's Leonard Lopate show, as well as international media sources.


"Distracted: Staying Connected Without Losing Focus serves to give perspective to the overall issue of distraction in our lives and foster the importance of more thoughtful and conscious choices in respect to daily interactions with technology. Because most mass communication in the 21st century is through technology, Distracted: Staying Connected Without Losing Focus is timely for readers."—Communication Booknotes Quarterly, December 21, 2018
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