Whenever we see (…) appear at the end of a post on social medi, whats our common thought? “I can’t be bothered to read this….” Unless of course it is a topic that interests us. If a video is longer than the average 30 seconds our minds start to wander.
A study from Microsoft Corporation has highlighted that as a result of the increased use of digital technology, it has made it difficult for individuals to focus shortening our attention span from twelve seconds down to eight.
“Consumers’s lives are increasingly digital – at work, home and everywhere in between. With news reduced to 140 characters and conversations condensed to emojis, how is this affecting the way [we] see and interact with the world?”
In 2014 Microsoft conducted a two part research project. The first was an online survey and
game to test its participants attention span, respondents were divided into three groups based on their performances: low, medium and high attention. The second was neurological research, where participant brain activity was assessed as they interacted with different media and participated in a range of activities. Results highlighted that the main factors impacting attention were:
- Media consumption
- Social media usage
- Technology adoption rate
- Multi-screening behaviour
Living in the 21st century, it is becoming almost impossible to avoid using some form of technology. Susan Greenfield explains that our brains have the capacity to mirror or transform into what we are absorbing, the ‘personalisation of the brain’.
To test this theory I gathered my girlfriends for a girls night in. I decided that we were going to start the night with a game of Cards Against Humanity, however without any
alcohol. I wanted to test how long the girls would engage with the game before deciding to check their phone and give up. A 30 minute game found that:
- Instantly minds started to wander
- From start to end amongst 10 girls their phones were checked over 30 times
- Messages were replied to at least 20times
- 7 posts to social media sites were made
- And 4 people complained
During this observation I noticed that, what was supposed to be a quick and easy game turned into a prolonging activity all because of our constant urge to check our devices.
After reading out their individual statistics it was safe to say that each and every one were in denial. “I’m not obsessed with my phone”, is the response I constantly received.
However, our constant use of technology is not only shortening our attention span. It can be said that we are suffering from “nomophobia“(short for no-mobile-phone phobia). Symptoms can include feeling anxious or panicked when being away from your phone, and in the more severe cases feeling the vibrations of your phone when it is not ringing or receiving a notification.
After researching into these issues, I found that there were online sites where you could test whether you have an internet addiction and an attention span test. Have a try and feel free to comment your results!
Attention Span Test: