Caitlyn Davey | May 19, 2015 Technology has reduced our attention span by 25 per cent - but we’re also multi-tasking and absorbing more content than ever before.
While you’re reading this, do you have the television on or your tablet open or perhaps you have eight other browser tabs open you are flicking between? 7DAYS reported yesterday, humans now having shorter attention spans than goldfish, according to a study. The study, of 2,000 Canadians over the age of 18, found that our once 12-second attention span has come down to eight seconds.
Have I still got your attention?
It could be largely due to a shift in reliance, psychologist Dr Jared Alden explains. “There has been a shift in generations – where my generation was required to memorise dates, facts and information – millennials can just Google it, to the point where now youths are using technology as a form of memory device,” says Dr Alden, from the German Neuroscience Centre.
But before you bin your tablet, smartphone and laptop, Dr Alden says all is not lost. We can use technology to improve things too. “There’s an app for that!” he says with a grin. “For example, I have 80GB worth of music. But it’s so rare that I will sit and listen to one whole song. Force yourself to sit and listen, and use one song at a time. The more little tasks you set for yourself and your brain to work out, the better your attention span will become.”
Mike Priest, editor of the UAE’s ‘Stuff’ gadget magazine, agrees that our attention span may be shrinking. But it could be due to something else. He says: “While it’s becoming increasingly apparent that people’s attention spans are getting shorter, it’s also important to take into account that this may be due to the fact that we have far greater access to more content and information online than ever before. “
Tips to improve your attention span
– Meditate – this will help you clear your mind and practice focus.
– “Use it or lose it” say Dr Alden. The brain is a muscle so try and remember things rather than just Googling them. Create memory tasks for yourself.
– Try wiggling your toes – this will bring you back into the present moment, and stop you seeking excitement.
– Keeping healthy and hydrated can also play a part. If our bodies are in need of a physical requirement – like water or a nutrient, or are hungry – our brains will be concentrating on keeping the body regular – rather than the task at hand.
– Designate phone and device-free zones in areas of your home, car or office.
– Work your brain with memory training like crosswords and board games.
– Encourage everyone to wake up and go to sleep device-free.
– Stay still. Avoid mindlessly reaching for your tablet or smartphone. It may be uncomfortable and feel strange at first, but breaking the habit will help minimise your dependence.