Phones and attention spans

Did you know that of all the people that read the headline for this article, only 20% will bother to read the actual content?  The fact that you are here already makes you one of the dedicated elite.

However, there’s every chance you won’t actually make it to the end of this article.  Thanks to our constant connectivity, distractions from social media, ping of smartphones and the lure of hyperlinks it would appear our attention spans are getting increasingly shorter as time goes by.

The fact that you’ve made it this far is nothing short of a miracle, frankly.

Though, now you are here it’s probably time to actually address these so-called reports about our attention spans.  Whilst many claim to have done extensive research in to the matter, and have found cause for concern when it comes to our ability to focus, it would appear results may not be all they seem.

Take, for example, the simple goldfish.  Long associated with poor memory spans these beautiful aquatic creatures are apparently being tarred with a brush that just doesn’t fit. In fact, goldfish make excellent subjects for psychologists who wish to study memory and the ability to learn, so their reputation is completely unjustified.

As it would appear to be for those who compulsively use their smartphones or other mobile devices. Studies in 2015 suggested that thanks to technology and the mobile revolution our attention spans have now dropped to a pathetic 8 seconds (one second less than the maligned goldfish’s).  However, psychologists disagree, and say the idea of a reducing attention is just plain wrong.

This is primarily due to the fact that the idea of an average attention span is relatively meaningless. In fact, ability to concentrate has more to do with the task at hand and its demands upon your attention than an attention span in and of itself.

For example, when looking at a person’s ability to read a text message and drive at the same time, it is difficult to maintain attention in either direction for long. This is because both activities require full attention to be performed adequately, and when attention is split, the task ultimately suffers.  Which is, of course, why using your phone whilst behind the wheel of a car is illegal.

Cold hard facts are not necessarily there to support either theory, but what do you think?  Does the youth of today find it harder to sit up and pay attention than the generations before them?  Do you feel you are losing your grip on the ability to stay focused, or even multi-task since you let technology play a greater part in your life?

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