Lisa Markwell: May I have your attention please? Hello?

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The Independent Online

A tweet this week praising an author who writes on a computer not connected to the internet made me... Wait, what? Sorry, I just had to check emails and scan Twitter again. Where was I? Oh yes, attention spans. It made me think that disabling the internet is an idea to adopt into my household. In fact, there's an app for it – Freedom (with a hat-tip, presumably, to Jonathan Franzen, who famously does the no-internet thing when he writes).

I don't intend to rehearse here specifics of the atmosphere when a teenager sitting GCSEs shares a living space with their anxious parents. However, distraction – and ways to avoid it – prey heavy on the mind of said parent (me).

The fact that GCSEs are not concentrated on one short period at the end of year 11 and are staggered (with some being sat now) is a mixed blessing. At least not all the revision needs to be done at once, but the probability of a teenager being able to sustain attention over months is unlikely. I base this not only on my current travails, but on conversations with other parents.

Quite apart from the daily distractions of BBM, Facebook and Call of Duty, the prospect of devoting every weekend from now until June to studying is too much for all but the most dedicated of students.

I sympathise – no matter how many times I try to concentrate on various school and college websites in order to help Jnr with his sixth-form applications, I can't manage it.

The twin-header of acres of unfiltered information and work/ other child/tax to attend to are my downfall. What hope is there? Yesterday distraction was top of the news agenda. Cases of insomnia are vaulting upwards, with the use of laptops, iPads and smartphones in the bedroom cited – by my long-suffering doctor – as a reason for our brains flitting restlessly, unable to power down and sleep. (Another reason to switch off the net, then. And to adhere to my policy of making the teenager put all electronics outside his room at 10.30pm). We learn, too, that the captain of the Costa Concordia may have been distracted by a woman, causing the fatal collision with the rocks. I can't help feeling that in this case, distraction as a theory is flawed – it would take major-league eye-fluttering and shimmying to allow time for a vast liner to stray. Aren't such vessels slow to change course?

It's not like a shopfront catching your eye when driving and the car lurches towards the kerb.

We shall discover the truth eventually and must remain attentive till then. Now, I must get back to those college forms ...