With advancements in technology that is forever growing, our economy has shifted to become one fighting for consumer attention. It’s become an attention economy that rather than being supply based, it’s demand based- assisting and meeting the needs and wants of consumers. The importance and use of media technologies and channels have shifted overtime from traditional media content to mobile devices and social media platforms. With our digital based lifestyles, it’s identified that our attention spans have shortened, inhabiting our ability to concentrate for extended periods of time.
‘Where the attention goes, the money will inevitably flow’ (Ingram, 2015).
Personally, I believe my attention span is quite long depending on my mindset and the content I’m giving my attention to. If I personally want to concentrate on something, I can set my mind to it but other than that, my mind tends to drift. I become bored and slowly reach out towards my phone to check social media or to just play games. With this in mind, I conducted a simple test, observing my best friend during lunch at a restaurant. This was set as an informal ‘catch up’ but due to it being at a nice restaurant, the context of the lunch was much more formal then planned. I believe this impacted my results as due to the formalities and that it was a one on one meeting, it would be considered quite rude to go on your phone while having lunch and interacting. However, I did notice her eyes glance to her phone whenever she received a notification in which she quickly looked to see if it was anyone important or locked the screen. That being said, her phone was always in easy reach on the table. I could tell when she did become distracted from conversation or while eating in which she would check her phone quickly or check the time.
In saying that, I was no different. I also had my phone right beside me and was glancing over to it whenever I received a notification. It’s like a constant urge that we all try to resist. An urge to have to constantly check our media devices and social media platforms that indefinitely impacts our attention spans. A report by Microsoft Canada identifies in the year 2000, the average human attention span was twelve seconds. In 2013, it decreased to eight seconds. It also identified that the younger generations, 18 to 24 year olds found it harder to concentrate and had shorter attention time spans then those older. This could be due to the increasing technology use and available media that blossomed in the 21st century compared to later generations, thus recognising a correlation between age, new media technologies and evident decreasing attention spans. (Microsoft Canada, 2015).
Being a twenty- year old University student and sitting in one or two hour long lectures and tutorials, I can definitely say from my own personal observations as well as experience, that our age groups’ attention span is definitely decreasing. At the back of a lecture hall, you can easily see the multiple screens students flick through while listening and absorbing lecture- a constant transition between the lecture content and Facebook. Being constantly surrounded by our mobile phone devices and laptops we find the need to constantly cure ourselves from boredom and find something more ‘exciting’ that is indefinitely being presented to us on social media. Sites and apps such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram are sucking all our attention. This doesn’t only mean that we are struggling to concentrate on one thing over an extended period of time, it also means other media and content companies must find new ways to attract consumers’ attention, otherwise they will fall behind. This is, the attention economy.
Check out this article by the telegraphy UK and do their quiz to see if you are addicted to your phone and let me know in the comments below what you got!
Consumer insights Microsoft Canada, 2015, ‘Attention Spans’ in Microsoft, pp.2- 17 https://advertising.microsoft.com/en/WWDocs/User/display/cl/researchreport/31966/en/microsoft-attention-spans-research-report.pdf
Ingram, M. 2015, ‘The attention economy and the impulsion of traditional media’ in Fortune. http://fortune.com/2015/08/12/attention-economy/