It feels like nowadays, our attention spans are shorter now than they have ever been during this boom in technology. We have so much information at our fingertips now that whenever something doesn’t hold our attention for more than a few seconds we just keep scrolling or searching until we find something else that we get bored with in a similar amount of time.
We can learn so many new things that it would be so much harder to find without the use of technology. I can order food to my house, purchase a TV online, watch my favorite sports teams play and talk to my family through text, just with the click of a couple buttons. The capabilities our technology has nowadays is practically endless due to the amount of great advances we have made over the years. Technology has made everything so much more convenient for us. This is kind of part of the problem.
A relatively recent study done by Microsoft a year ago found that the average human attention span has dropped to 8.25 seconds, which is a 25% decrease from previous years. For reference, the average human attention span was 12 seconds in 2000. On paper this seems bad, but it gets even worse when you compare it to the fact that the average attention for a goldfish is 9 seconds. If all of this information is true, which is the consensus thought, we now have a worse attention span than an animal whose brain is so much smaller than ours. Why is that?
Often, the simplest answer is usually the correct one. Our daily lives are constantly surrounded by technology. We use technology for our jobs, personal pleasure, and so many other things. It’s near impossible to go a full day without using technology at least once, and I am completely guilty of this.
I realize this overuse of technology on my part whenever I receive my weekly notifications on my phone about how many hours of screen time I had within the last week.
Every time I see the number, I realize just how much time I spent on my phone that I didn’t even notice I was doing. For my most recent screen time this week, I spent a total of 14 hours and 10 minutes on my phone. The two apps I’ve spent the most time on are Messages and YouTube, which make the most sense because Messages is the way I communicate with others the most and I often use YouTube videos as background noise when I do my homework.
It would be flat out dishonest for me to look at that number I just mentioned and for me to say that there isn’t at least the tiniest bit of overuse of technology for myself, and I know other people experience this as well. Dr Sharon Horwood, who is a senior lecturer in the School of Psychology at Deakin University, conducted a study on problematic phone usage in 2018 where 33% of respondents admitted to feeling anxious or nervous if they didn’t check their phone within a certain time frame.
We have the constant need to check what’s going on so much that it’s caused people anxiety. This goes to show how much power our technology has over us. This does not necessarily mean that technology is all bad, though.
There are, of course, benefits to having so much technology around us all the time. It’s an important part of our lives, I am certainly not denying that element. I can’t imagine how much worse it would be if I had to handwrite everything and was never allowed to use a phone or a computer to type. In the times we live in, we have more access to information that we have ever had in the history of humankind. Nevertheless, it is still important that we recognize the extent of our technological uses and how excessive they can be.