My parents generally don’t concern themselves too much with my study habits, instead preferring to let me muddle along on my
own. Lately, however, whenever I settle in for another long night of homework, I have heard the same lines over and over.
“Don’t be a meerkat.”
“Are you meerkating again? Well, stop.”
Anyone listening to my mom would probably be more than a little confused, but I happen to know exactly what she’s talking about.
Meerkat Syndrome, as defined by my mom, occurs when high school students such as myself, try to concentrate and fail. Each sound or alert distracts those with Meerkat Syndrome and causes an immediate reaction in the hopes of abandoning work. This is disturbingly similar to the behavior of meerkats who freeze at the first sign of danger.
Common symptoms of Meerkat Syndrome include inability to concentrate for than 20 minutes at a time, the uncontrollable need to check any and all social media sites, and the tendency to be distracted by everything. With the rise of gadgets and the instant internet connection that they provide, many students find it increasingly difficult to concentrate.
“I go on Facebook a lot when I’m studying, and I’ll tell myself I’m just checking for 30 seconds,” junior Elizabeth Coughlin said. “Then I’ll look at the time and it’s already an hour later!”
This disorder is merely annoying most of the time, but with finals just around the corner, it can be particularly devastating. Luckily, there is a ray of hope for the afflicted.
Google Chrome released StayFocused, a free productivity extension to their browser, last year and since then it has become wildly popular with over 300,000 users. Users designate certain websites as time wasters and set a time limit that they can use those sites. If the time limit is exceeded, StayFocused blocks access to that website for the rest of the day, forcing users to concentrate.
If your Meerkat Syndrome is a little more advanced, however, you might need something a litte tougher. The Internet restriction-program, Freedom, blocks any and all web-access for up to eight hours at a time. However, the program costs a hefty $10 and isn’t much help when it comes to text messages and other cell phone distractions.
As difficult as it can be, perhaps the best solution to distracting cell phones is to simply turn phones off while studying. With these tips in mind, Meerkat Syndrome can become a thing of the past, and finals may be just a little less painful.