How long can you last?

Paying attention to anything can be one of the most difficult tasks for a person to do. While it sounds simple and a given to pay attention, it can be quite a challenge. This week I was tasked with making a short, informal test to test a few people’s attention span. I did it with 4 of my friends. The test was for them to watch a video  and see how long it would take for them to switch to their phone or get distracted by something else in general.

The video in question was this:

Now, I split my 4 friends into groups of 2, group A and B. I told group A about the context as to why I was showing them this video. I told them I was doing a quick and informal test about attention span. I wanted to see how long they could last before getting distracted. Meanwhile I told group B nothing, I just ended up showing them the video when the opportunity came up.

The results were interesting to say the least. Group A went through the entire video with their focus on just the video itself. I questioned them on what made the video so engaging for them. One of them just said “I only watched the whole thing because I took it as a challenge”. I took this response into consideration which is why I split my friends into two groups. Group B had interesting results too. One person took out their phone and glanced at it twice before the video ended while the other looked only at their phone past the 30 second mark.

According to a multi-screen study done by google, “We are a nation of multi-screeners. Most consumers’ media time is spent in front a computer, smartphone, tablet and TV” (Google, 2012) The video itself was just shown on a single laptop screen. This adds as to why it failed to retain group B’s attention. Group B avidly uses computers and most likely switches browser tabs when there is even a second of down time in a video. I’m happy with the results because it’s roughly what I expected. Personally I wasn’t hoping group A wouldn’t take the test as a challenge and act as if I wasn’t testing them but it couldn’t be helped.

With all of this said and done, what comes after? I did a bit of thinking about the topic. Having such small attention spans really is quite an issue. Not just in work related activities but in leisurely activities too.

“According to the 2013 Nielsen report, three-quarters of viewers multi-task with two sets of content while watching television. The 2013 Social TV Report, backed by Yahoo and 7, found that 33% of their respondents discussed television on social media as they watched it, with 46% also reported that it increased their level of enjoyment.” Richards, M (2014)

Imagine spending time with your partner and you’re watching a romantic movie together. A climatic scene is happening, you’re getting engrossed in the film but your partner is just tweeting about it on twitter. Talk about a mood killer. It really is a problem that needs fixing. It’s become so much of a problem, it’s essentially opened up a new consumer market. Products or servers to get things done for people. They’ve always existed but now they’re coming in full force which is most definitely not a good thing.

Reference list:

  1. Google (2012) The New Multi-Screen World: Understanding Cross-platform Consumer Behavior. Available at: https://ssl.gstatic.com/think/docs/the-new-multi-screen-world-study_research-studies.pdf (Accessed: 16 September 2016).
  2. Richards, M. (2014) Second screening: The rise of social TV. Available at: http://blog.marginmedia.com.au/Our-Blog/bid/100804/Second-Screening-The-Rise-of-Social-TV (Accessed: 16 September 2016).
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