So as you’re reading this, the challenge is to keep you focused long enough to finish this post without quickly checking why you’re phone made a buzzing sound or possibly googling brownie recipes that are good for you? I can admit that personally, I would have done both of those things already because my attention span is pretty terrible, my mum and a playbuzz attention quiz would back me up on this. I’m not saying that I’m a person that rarely engages with the conversation or task at hand, however I’m conscious of my not so great abilities to stay focused while there are multiple screens (It took me a few goes to sit down and commit a solid couple of hours to my writing).
I think it’s safe to say that majority of the population own at least one media devise, and in actual fact according to Google report ‘The New Multi-screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behaviour’, online time is spent on average between four media devices. Suddenly the hefty task to command someone’s attention is a more difficult one than anticipated. I decided to perform a small test on my father (Lachlan), which observed his abilities to keep his attention focused on one screen at a time. I chose dad to be my “subject” as older adults also participate and appreciate the ease and convenience of media devices. My dad wasn’t aware at the time that I was conducting this task on him, this was done to help ensure a genuine outcome. He was notified afterwards and was not only fine with me publicly writing about it on my blog, he appreciated the reasons behind it.
The test was as follows: Lachlan was sitting in the living room, focused on a laptop in front of him re writing a menu for the cafe he owns. Next to him, like usual, was an iPad that he was using earlier for entertainment use. My Dad is a flakey but religious user of Facebook, often sharing memes with his not so impressed daughters of his. So in spite of this, I sent him a Facebook link on messenger of the famous cat who takes better selfies than humans (quality stuff). The alert poped up on the iPad, Dad diverted his attention quickly to see what it was and then returned back to his work. About a minute later dad reverted back to the iPad, picks it up and opens the message. From that point his attention had been robbed, he was now hypnotised by the “selfie cat” and all its antics, calling out to me asking me to watch video of other famous funny animals.
And so these results confirm the general consensus that multiple media devices reduce the ability to direct attention to one thing for a suspended and interrupted amount of time. After observing my dads behaviour around technology, it made me reflect on my own behaviour and whether majority of people’s attention span is scientifically proved to be dwindling. According to Microsoft, the human attention span in 2013 was 8 seconds, and the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds… And after writing today’s blog, I don’t find that hard to believe.