Human attention span down to just eight seconds: Microsoft
Toronto, May 17
With the rise in digital technology, the human attention span has shortened from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade, a recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found.Humans now have an attention span less than of a goldfish (nine seconds average).
The 54-page study 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. They played games and interacted online to help scientists determine the impact of smartphones and other digital media on everyday life. Participants’ brain activity was recorded and behaviour was filmed while they interacted with different social media platforms across devices and in different environments.
The team measured their attention levels and activities 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.
The decrease was seen across all age groups and genders in the study.
Those in the age group 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). Young respondents were more likely to display addiction-like behaviours 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,” the findings showed.
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 a” they are more easily distracted by multiple streams of media,” stated the report posted on the Microsoft website.