Attention Span of A Goldfish? You Wish . . .

220px-Goldfish3Please try to read this story in eight seconds and do not get distracted by the picture of the goldfish. There is an interesting study that seems to confirm one curious aspects of our information technology revolution. As we are increasingly bombarded by information and images from different sources, our attention spans appears to be failing. The study of 2,000 people found that the average attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. With the decline, we have now fallen below the attention span of a goldfish (at nine seconds).

Another study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information and the National Library of Medicine found that 79 per cent of respondents in the U.S. engaged in dual-screening — watching portable devices while watching TV. Some 52 per cent check our phones every 30 minutes.

My only question is, if the average is eight seconds, where would teenagers fall? Is it possible to have the attention span of a rock?

17 thoughts on “Attention Span of A Goldfish? You Wish . . .”

  1. The study is produced in presentation format — backup material for a slide presentation. That in itself is instructive and congruent with the purpose of the study, which is marketing research.

    My guess is that jury selection experts will read it with interest unless they already know what Microsoft has published in it.

  2. Darren

    I’m not sure if it’s sad, or scary, or just outright crazy. I’d like to be fly on the wall when he talks to Inhofe, or maybe not.

  3. If you are curious about the strength, length, and resolve of your attention span here is a good challenge.

  4. It’s also because of advertising. We are besieged by people trying to sell us stuff. I think the average hour of television now has 20 minutes of advertising, with interruptions often coming after four minutes of the show. Some websites are unreadable due to the massive amount of ads popping up all over the place. This is something Congress can and should fix, but they won’t.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. Paul

    Then you understand. For me, that is simply the ignorance of being rude. Perhaps a rule to turn off cell phones and deposit them in a box at the door would work. You could watch and register the effects this has on the participants, could make for a good short story.

  6. This touches upon a question(s) regarding the impact of the modern tech era on the nurture part of human development. I find that adults, not only kids, are increasingly rude in person when attached to someone else through a cell phone. I used to enjoy lunch with other professionals, finding an interesting restaurant, hunkering down to a half hour or so of story swapping and opinions over some food, the limit of my multitasking. Little by little with the cell phone, that became less and less enjoyable. I don’t support that and have refused invitations for a lunch of a limited time because of that. There is nothing so rude than to respond to a cell phone that cannot be turned off for a period of time that should be devoted to the moment.

    This is now, not only accepted, but promoted in the media, movies, TV etc. We are learning to be rude and mindlessly scattered. Personally I leave my cell phone off unless I need to use it. In airports I often listen, almost impossible not to, to conversations. 90% or more of what goes on is absolutely unnecessary, nothing that can’t wait. Introspection used to be a prized activity. It used to be one of the foundation stones of what makes people interesting. Perhaps the universe is expanding and I am missing something. There is an entire department of studies here for students to explore, and maybe make a living.

    1. issac – I was at a book club where a new person joined us and took 3 cell calls during the time of the club meeting. He did keep his voice down, but frankly he could have either gotten up and taken the call somewhere else or texted the person. And he is older than I am.

  7. This dovetails w/ a report that shows reading a book results in much better comprehension than reading from a computer screen. I was blessed w/ a good ability to focus. But, that is challenged, particularly when I read newspapers online. There are so many things flashing I feel like I’m on a GD airport runway. I am one of the few people that still get newspapers delivered and I always buy papers like the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, when I pass a newsstand.

    Millennials are so dependent upon devices that if GPS satellites are ever taken out by meteors they will be homebound.

  8. How many people could carry on a conversation as portrayed in the movie “My Dinner With Andre”?

    1. Paul – frankly how many people know the people talked about in the conversation in My Dinner with Andre? Everyone they talked about was alive and working.

  9. How do we know that the attention span of a goldfish is 9 seconds? A million dollar government research study? BTW, is the 9 second attention span uniform for all goldfish, or is it an average?

  10. Unfortunately it appears our congress members have the judgment of a rock. They sacrifice the needs of our country for their petty scrables and ignore ou infrastructure. Their limited range of sight seems focused on the needs of their corporate clients. As a result, TPP is very important and the roads and rails who cares.

    As to the goldfish, at least the fish appreciates the need for clean water! As it teenagers, when all they get in school is a computer screen and entertainment rather than education what can we expect.

  11. It’s called “multi-tasking”. And yes, I’ve worked with many people that qualified as a rock. 😉

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