In today’s technology driven world it always seems as though we are doing two or more things at once. If you’re like most people, then you can probably relate. Although it may seem as though we’ve gotten quite good at multi-tasking apparently we have not. It has recently been found that our attention span has shrunk down from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds long (Time, 2015). We now hold a shorter concentration than a goldfish, which holds itself just one second more. Finding out this information was definitely a shock, I myself believed I was a skilled ‘multi-tasker’. Watching films or television shows while on my phone, listening to the radio and most likely eating, I thought it was a real talent of mine. Now that I think back I find it obvious that I wasn’t giving any of these activities my full attention. These were things just simply happening in the background but I was never truly concentrating on anyone of them in particular (except the maybe food). This information was conducted by Microsoft researchers in Canada who surveyed 2,000 participants studying their brain activity using electroencephalograms. They found that from the year 2000 the average attention span dropped four seconds. The study defined attention span as ‘the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted’ (Microsoft, 2015). The report goes on to identify the association between the younger generation and media devices, where young adults find it hard to concentrate and engage with multiple screens.
Reviewing this information I decided that through the week I wanted to conduct my own small study. I monitored my brother to determine just how much he actually paid attention when watching TV. It was not surprising that more then half the time he was on his smartphone looking at memes. The only time I found he was giving his full attention was when he was playing on his PlayStation.
From this small experiment I found one of the major problems to be the smartphone. Like many know it has a reputation when it comes to people not paying attention. Now it seems that the phones are even smarter than us. Through this observation the real question that is brought up is- how much do we have to value something before giving it our full attention?
Continuing on with our smartphone addiction, in the past I have read many articles about people who have faced the challenge and had given up their phone for a whole week. Searching for these articles again I found that there is an extremely large number of them. For the purpose of this blog post I decided to review exactly five. Out of all the participants the end quotes were all basically the same ‘I was happy to have my iPhone back’. While they may have realised how much we do in fact rely on them and how maybe this is something we should work on, I believe that their relationship with their phone is back where it started.
With the increasing introductions of new technologies who knows where our attention span will be in the future years. I may have found out that my multi-tasking skills are not impressive but rather lacking concentration, however I hope the next time you find yourself on your phone that you at least acknowledge it and maybe we’ll all be a bit more conscious of what we are actually doing. Now excuse me, I have social media to check.
*comment 🙂 at the bottom of the page if you’ve read this far (I’d love to know)*
Consumer Insights, 2015, ‘Attention Spans’, Microsoft Canada, pp.1-52
‘I survived a week without my smartphone’ references: