Can I Have Your Attention Please!

So it’s time to test my attention span… but how do I do it?

As a media and communications student in the 21st century, I naturally turn to Google to help me out. I also do this because I want to be productive with my time and don’t have the creativity to invent something myself.

Quiz found. Quiz taken. Answer: Lengthy Attention Span!

At first, I laughed at this response. But upon further consideration I actually think that my attention span is pretty good… My main distractions in life are facebook notifications and food, and once these are satisfied I can usually stay focused and on track.

yl-short-attention-span
Source: http://www.slidegenius.com/blog/slidegenius-news/analyzing-the-attention-span-of-your-audience/

My boyfriend (and official hamster for all BCM research) also took the test and achieved a ‘Balanced Attention Span’. This was surprising, since it took him an extra 5 minutes to complete it, between laughing at the questions and checking his phone.

Now, I personally believe that women are better than men at multitasking, and studies show that generally women are better at switching rapidly between tasks (Morgan, 2013). But is this even a good thing? The main argument against multitasking is that it leads to cognitive impairment, however new studies have shown the potential for multitasking to benefit multisensory integration, which is particularly relevant in today’s society.

In an increasingly multiscreen and multitasking world, it is also important to be able to filter content. “The online world is increasingly comprised of spaces where advertisers attempt to tempt us with their products; similarly, public spaces are increasingly full of adverts that can play sound and video to further capture our attention” (Thirkettle & Pike, 2015).

Technology has definitely altered the nature of our concentration, however it is still debatable as to whether this is good or bad. While there are countless (past and active) psychological studies and news articles that investigate and discuss the changing nature of human attention spans, very little is properly understood (Thirkettle & Pike, 2015). Hell, one article reports that dark chocolate helps to increase concentration!

digital-overload
Source: http://www.onemanswonder.com/2014_12_01_archive.html

And beyond looking into the science behind concentration, it is important to consider the social and cultural impacts of why people are so distracted and have limited attention spans. A report by Google (2012) shows that there are two modes of multiscreening: sequential usage, and simultaneous usage of devices. Gen Z are the most technologically connected, but also they are also the most attention deficient: “If Y-ers were the perfectly connected generation, Z-ers are over connected… they multi-task across five screens” (Birshidsky, 2014). While using devices at the same time can easily be linked to the consequences of multitasking and studies in decreased in attention spans, it is important to note that the youngest generation are competent and confident with this behaviour.

References

Birshidsky, L. 2014, ‘Here Comes Generation Z’, Bloomberg View, blog post, June 18, viewed September 18 2015, http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-06-18/nailing-generation-z

Chirico, K. 2014, ’21 Things People With Short Attention Spans Simply Can’t Do’, Buzzfeed, blog post, May 23, viewed September 21 2015, http://www.buzzfeed.com/kristinchirico/things-people-with-short-attention-spans-simply-cant-do#.tlrpYbvQz

Davies, M. 2015, ‘Forget coffee – dark chocolate can help you beat the afternoon slump’, Daily Mail, May 11, viewed September 21 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3076652/DARK-CHOCOLATE-increase-attention-span-alertness.html

Google, 2012, The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behaviour, viewed September 21 2015, https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf

How Long Is Your Attention Span? 2015, viewed September 21 2015, http://www.playbuzz.com/thelaststraw10/how-long-is-your-attention-span

Lui, F. Wong, A. 2012, ‘Does media multitasking always hurt? A positive correlation between multitasking and multisensory integration’, Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, viewed September 21 2015, http://www.springer.com/about+springer/media/springer+select?SGWID=0-11001-6-1376322-0

Morgan, J. 2013, ‘Women better at multitasking than men, study finds’, BBC, blog post, October 24, viewed September 21 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-24645100

Thirkettle, M. & Pike, G. 2015, ‘Is technology making your attention span shorter than a goldfish’s?’ The Conversation, blog post, May 28, viewed September 21 2015, http://theconversation.com/is-technology-making-your-attention-span-shorter-than-a-goldfishs-42072

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3 Replies to “Can I Have Your Attention Please!”

  1. Hi Eryn,
    I liked how you talked about the need for filtering in a multi-screen/multi-tasking world, and found the comment on how multitasking can benefit multi-sensory integration particularly interesting. I’ve always though multi-tasking was not as productive as giving your full attention to a task, so the idea that it can actually help you pay attention to more things at a time is cool!

    – Cheers,
    Alison

  2. Thanks Alison! I wanted to talk about these things because I find them very relevant – I hate ads on the TV and my computer, and since I am a multi-tasker I wanted to find something positive about it 🙂

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