4 ways smartphones are killing your attention span

What I learnt when I stopped texting for a day

18 Feb 4 ways smartphones are killing your attention span

Last year it was widely publicised that the attention span of a human has fallen to an all-time low – 8.25 seconds. This may not seem terrible, but when you consider that a goldfish has a 9-second attention span, it’s quite appalling.

But why is causing our attention spans to decrease? It’s our constant connectedness, which comes from smartphones. So we’ve got 4 ways that smartphones are killing our attention spans.

#1 Constant notifications

Our phones constantly light up, all thanks to our myriad of notifications. Whether it’s social media, shopping, or any other app, email or text, our phone is constantly fighting to get our attention and distracting us from other things around us.

One study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that simply receiving a push notification from our phones was as distracting as responding to a text message or a phone call. The authors of the study wrote;

“Our results suggest that mobile phones can disrupt attention performance even if one does not interact with the device”

Not only do these constant push notifications result in us being more distracted, less focused and less productive – they also increase our stress and anxiety levels. Turn them off and focus on the task in hand.

#2 Constant connectedness

Technology is advancing at an ever-increasing rate and, thanks to these advances, telecommunications and internet infrastructure are covering more and more places with their networks. Those distracting notifications we mentioned? Well, we currently live in a world where, short of turning your phone off or walking off into the tundra, these notifications will always be able to get to you.

Fancy walking off into the tundra after reading that? Soon you may not even be safe there, as Facebook wants to cover the entire world with Internet signal using their Aquila drones – so you can never escape those work emails or Twitter notifications. All the more reason to turn them off.

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#3 Second screens

Smartphones are also responsible for the rising phenomenon of ‘second screens‘ or ‘multi-screening’. This is where, whilst engaging with one screen – typically something like watching TV – whilst using another screen-based device  – typically a mobile phone. This second screen is used to enhance the viewing of the content through interactive features, most typically these are social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Studies have the shown that there is an increasing usage of second screens while watching TV.

However, psychologists have found time and time again that attention is a limited resource. Multitasking – in this case, watching TV while using a second screen – doesn’t actually work. We don’t focus on lots of things at the same time, instead we flick our attention between tasks extremely quickly.

#4 Instant results

Smartphones have allowed us instant results for pretty much anything we need. Whether its facts, recipes, TV, music, anything we need is now just at the touch of a button. Some have argued that this has left us an impatient generation, living in a world of “instant gratification and quick fixes.” We can’t even hold our attention for 5 seconds for a web page to load before we hit the back button.

It’s clear to us that periods of disconnectedness can help us become more productive, both at home and at work. All of our digital detox retreats offer you periods of complete isolation from technology, so you can let your mind recover and reset.

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4 ways smartphones are killing your attention span
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4 ways smartphones are killing your attention span
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But why is causing our attention spans to decrease? It's our constant connectedness, which comes from smartphones. So we've got 4 ways that smartphones are killing our attention spans.
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