Who needs attention spans when we can multitask (and do a pretty good job at it) !?

Does multitasking mean our attention span is low? Or can we have full attention on all things we are doing?

Research conducted by Faria Sana, Tina Weston, and Melody Wiseheart, concluded that having a laptop open in a university lecture hinders academic performance. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, although I can admit I am often guilty of having a number of un-related tabs open during a lecture, especially if I am not finding it engaging or important. Many students however, also use their laptop to take notes, Google mentioned ideas for clarification and to have their lecture slides and/or readings open in front of them. Many students who use their laptops are actually using it for a purpose, whether it is that taking notes is faster than taking them in a notepad. However our attention spans can be sacrificed.


In a very small-scale research task, fellow BCM students Amelia and Jessica sat down in hope to measure each other’s attention spans. This didn’t go too well seeing as though we all had our laptops open, we were all munching on food, checking our phones and discussing very serious life issues (such as boys, the gym and food.) both sequential screening (move between devices) and simultaneous screening (using multiple devises at the same time) was evident. Although at first, the experiment was only between Jessica and Amelia, and I was merely third-wheeling, I couldn’t help but observe the process. I think I heard the words “Okay lets start” and “No seriously, let’s start the work,” about 78 times??? In their minds, they hadn’t began the exercise, however I had began my research long before, mwahaha! Lets just say, attention spans were not thaaaaat great.


In ‘Attention Spans Report’ by microsoft Canada, it concludes that while the digital age has an effect on attention span length, being able to focus on an array of tasks has increased.

“tech savvy consumers are actually getting better at processing information and encoding that information to memory.”

I couldn’t agree with this more. In relation to the small-scale ethnography research conducted last Wednesday, while attention on one sole thing may be deteriorating, just like Jessica and Amelia couldn’t stay focus on any one thing (whether that be looking up fitness prgrams, texting, the assignment or having Facebook arguments.) However, attention to detail and precision has increased due to the fact that our tech-savvy generation is able to think actively and respond to many audiences and places at once. Take for instance, right this moment I am not only trying to write this blog post, I am also tidying my room, I have 13 tabs open, I am replying to text messages on my phone AND thinking about what to cook for dinner; yet I will still get this task done, and hopefully done well, before the assignment deadline.

Growing up in this modern day society is a crazy, crazy thing, yet it’s also so exciting and actually very efficient when you really think about it 😉


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