The Use Of Digital Technology Shortens Human Attention Span To 8 Seconds
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The Use Of Digital Technology Shortens Human Attention Span To 8 Seconds

The rise of gadgets in the digital age has led to a decline in human attention span, which is less than a goldfish
The Use Of Digital Technology Shortens Human Attention Span To 8 Seconds

In the digital age, where the news is limited to 140 characters and  conversations take place in the form of emojis, our attention span has  shortened. A recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found this digital lifestyle has made it  difficult for us to stay focused, with the human attention span  shortening from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade.

The  rise of gadget use in the 21st century means our lives have become  increasingly more digital at home, work, and school. In the U.S., nearly  two-thirds of Americans are smartphone owners, with many users  utilizing their phones for online access, according to a recent Pew  Research Center poll.  More than half of these smartphone users admit to using their phone in  the past year to look up information about a health condition, but at  what cost?

In the 54-page study, Microsoft sought to understand  what impact technology and today’s digital lives are having on attention  spans. The researchers collected data from surveys of more than 2,000  Canadians over the age of 18, who played games online to determine the  impact of pocket-sized devices and the increased availability of digital  media and information are having on everyday life. The researchers also  monitored over 100 people’s brain activity with in-lab monitoring,  using electroencephalograms (EEGs).

For the survey component, the  researchers sought to gauge overall attention and gauge habits and  perceptions by dividing the respondents into three equal sized groups  based on performance — low, medium, and high attention — representing  one-third of the sample. For the neurological component, participants’  brain activity was recorded and behavior was filmed while they  interacted with different media and performed several activities across  devices and in different environments. EEGs were used to measure their  attention levels and activities were mapped against tasks and behaviors  to view how attention varied by screen, task, content type, and  structure.

The findings revealed human attention span has fallen from an  average of 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds today.  Humans now have less of an attention span than a goldfish (nine seconds  average). The decrease was seen across all age groups and genders in the  study. Those in the age bracket of 18 to 34 had a 31 percent high  sustained attention span compared to those age 55 and over at 35  percent. Meanwhile, males (33 percent) had a better attention span than  females (31 percent). On a positive note, the researchers found the  ability to multitask has significantly improved.

“Heavy  multi-screeners find it difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli —  they’re more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” according  to the report.

The researchers did find generational differences when it came to  mobile use. Young respondents were more likely to display addiction-like  behaviors when it came to their devices. For example, 77 percent of  people aged 18 to 24 responded “yes” when asked “When nothing is  occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone,”  compared with only 10 percent of those over age 65. Out of the 18 to 24  age group, more than half admit to checking their phone every 30 minutes  or less and over three-fourths used their portable devices while  watching TV.

These findings coincide with a 2014 study by the British unit of advertising buyer OMD that found the average  person shifts their attention between their smartphone, tablet and  laptop 21 times in an hour. This suggests the human attention span is  smaller due to the growing presence of these gadgets. The desire to be  constantly connected can compromise attention but in exchange for being  better multitaskers.

In the digital age, it seems the ability to  stay focus is now a superpower. A weaker attention span could be the  side effect of the brain having to adapt and change over time in the  presence of technology. However, there are ways to improve our attention  span amid the ongoing texts, tweets, and other interruptions.

How to increase your attention span

1. Drink More Fluids

A 2012 study published in The Journal of Nutrition found mild  dehydration can cause you to lose concentration. It is imperative to  stay hydrated even when you don’t feel thirsty. Men should drink 13 cups  of total beverages a day while women should drink nine cups, according  to the Mayo Clinic.

2. Exercise

A 2013 study published in the journal PLOS ONE found increasing your fitness level can do wonders for your attention  span. Men who were part of a Spanish cycling team responded seven  percent much faster than the less fit group in a computerized task.  Exercising the body is exercising the brain.

3. Avoid Electronic Devices

A 2013 study found an office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption,  while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task  after an interruption. It’s better to give a task a dedicated time slot  to solely focus on your work and ignore the irrelevant. Technological  devices that are within reach can easily lure you in to decrease your  attention span.

So how many of you go through this article without checking your other electronic devices?

Read the full article at the original website.

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