Attention please (put the phone down)

A recently released study by Microsoft shows that digital lifestyles are decreasing Canadian attention spans. Microsoft asks: with news reduced to 140 characters and conversations whittled down to emojis, how is this affecting the way consumers see and interact with their worlds?

The most alarming finding in the study is that our minds are easily diverted – to the point that any sustained concentration for the average Canadian is becoming increasingly difficult. The study found that the average attention span of humans has decreased to eight seconds, which is one second shorter than that of a goldfish. This average attention span of humans in 2000 was 12 seconds – so in a little more than a decade, our ability to remain attentive has decreased 33%.

Microsoft’s study found that people (or Canadians at least) are more easily distracted in the presence of devices with screens. “Digital lifestyles affect the ability to remain focused for extended periods of time. Canadians with more digital lifestyles (those who consume more media, are multi-screeners, social-media enthusiasts or earlier adopters of technology) struggle to focus in environments where prolonged attention is needed,” the report said.

This is especially true for the younger generation. Here are shocking statistics for persons age 18 to 24:

  • 77 % reach for their phone when nothing is occupying their attention
  • 52% check their phones at least every 30 minutes
  • 73% check their phone as the last thing they do before going to bed
  • 79% use their phone or another device while watching TV
  • 74% watch TV programs via streamed video rather than live
  • 87% watch a number of program episodes back-to-back

There are a lot of interesting observations and data found in this Microsoft study, a lot to give you pause (before you next reach for your phone). Here are a few links to read more details – that is, if you can keep your attention any longer…

NDTV report

CNET News

Yahoo News

 

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