Attention Span


Ryan Koinange, Staff Writer

You’re coming back home, grab a snack from the fridge, plop back down on your desk, and start your homework. It’s grueling, yes, but you’re in desperate need of that A in health class. The fact that you got yourself in this position tells a lot about the person you are, but nonetheless it needs to be done. After all it’s only twelve quick assignments – – ding – – that singular soluble tone chimes in, and your brain is drawn to its presence. You pick up the phone and tell yourself this will be quick as you open TikTok and check your mentions. “Oh, look Josh just posted a new video,” you think. You watch the video and it’s pretty funny, but it should be time to get back to work now. Your thumb doesn’t listen. It inches closer to the “for you” page. Your brain tries to resist but start scrolling mindlessly away. Your germ-ridden thumb scrolls on the phone screen as it gives you the illusion that this will only be a minute. Scrolling away, away, away, trying to find the next ounce of dopamine. Your phone dies, and…

Dude, it’s dark outside.

You’re blaming yourself, thoughts of, “how could I have been so stupid” and “it was supposed to be quick” ringing through your head. You look around at your surroundings, then at your grades. It is what it is, and you’re back to the “for you” page. Attention span, the ability to focus on a particular task or activity, is one of the most important human assets that we have and need to train. In the current digital era, it is a growing and alarming problem. Many people, especially teenagers and young adults, find it challenging to retain their attention and focus on critical tasks as a result of the growth of social media platforms like TikTok. According to research by the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat all have a negative impact on young people’s mental health by fostering feelings of inferiority, anxiety, and sadness. These detrimental impacts on mental health are additional affects to attention span, making it more difficult to focus on tasks. Another investigation on why attention spans are dropping significantly was done about “the fear of missing out” (FOMO) phenomena on social media platforms like TikTok, which was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research. People who have this anxiety frequently check their social media feeds, which distracts them and shortens their attention span, because they are afraid to miss out on anything.

“Well, surely our attention spans can’t be that bad,” you may be asking. Well first off, I want to applaud you for getting this far in the article, as not a lot of people can or will do that.  Secondly, our attention spans are outstandingly bad based off the statistics. The global attention span has dropped by 25% from 2000 to 2015. 2015 was only seven years ago and apps like TikTok and Snapchat either didn’t exist yet or aren’t as big as they are today, yet the global attention span had already begun to drop. But here is the real nail in the coffin: the average human’s attention span is 8.25 seconds. Goldfish, my brothers and sisters, have an average attention span of 9 seconds.

“Well, this is an average and I’m definitely not a part of that.” The 8.25 seconds on average humans have, was recorded in 2015. We can only wait until the next statistics update, which will more than likely shed some egregious light on this problem.

That feeling you had earlier from getting off TikTok and seeing the day swiftly turn into night, and the feeling of regret and frustration. It serves as a clear illustration of how social media may dramatically reduce attention span and impair productivity due to its addictive nature and continual interruptions. Although it may seem like these big Tech companies have got a hold of you and that this is the new normal, it is not. It is up to you to make a conscious effort to cut back on your social media use, put attention-span-improvement techniques into practice, and recover control over your time and focus after becoming aware of the negative impacts; once you have begun doing that, you will understand that it’s crucial to strike a balance between the digital and physical worlds, making sure that your attention is focused on worthwhile activities that promote personal development and wellbeing.