Is Social Media Deteriorating Our Attention Spans?

Is Social Media Deteriorating Our Attention Spans?

Study shows that we have attention spans shorter than goldfish.
248
views

According to Microsoft’s recent research, we apparently have a prolonged attention span of a whopping eight seconds. In comparison, goldfish have an attention of nine seconds. How can this be? There’s no way in hell that we’re dumber than goldfish. Well, the facts say otherwise. With the rise of ADHD diagnoses and an exponential increase in attention deficit medication prescriptions, it is evident that social media is taking its toll on our brains. However, don’t be alarmed! Although there is an incredibly sad decline in our prolonged attention spans, there is good news. We have developed new skills as a result: multitasking and filtering.

It only makes sense that our attention spans have shortened. Tweets have a maximum 140-character limit, Vines have a max video length of six seconds and Snapchats max out at 10 seconds. We’re constantly scrolling through our different feeds, half-reading all the content we see. Maybe not even half. I know that I hardly read any Instagram captions, especially those excruciatingly long @humansofny ones. Despite your refusal to believe that the attention span of the human race scores lower than that of goldfish, this digital society we live in conditions our brains to concentrate only for short periods of time. Consequently, this leads to difficulty in prolonged attention spans.

The effects of over consumption of social media? The age group between 18-34 years have the lowest sustained attention spans, concluding that digital lifestyles have a negative impact on attention span. However, neuro-readings demonstrate that higher usage of social media increases short bursts of high attention, as opposed to a sustained attention span. This leads to the glimmer of positive effects. Millennials have an incredible ability to sift through what we want to engage with and what we don’t want to engage with. Our brains actively select which statuses or tweets we want to read and experts say that this filtering mechanism is a benefit, because we need less to process and commit things to memory. Another silver lining from active social media lifestyles is that it builds alternating attention, aka multi-tasking. How often do you find yourself having several tabs pulled up? Or how about when you double-click the home button on your iPhone and multiple apps are always running? This leads to our amazing ability to have multiple conversations not only with multiple people, but even with the same person on several different media platforms.

So to answer my initial question—is social media deteriorating our attention spans?—yes. It is. We can’t sit and pay attention for long in one sitting like we used to. That’s okay. I believe that our brains are learning to adapt to how technology is evolving, which is not necessarily a bad thing. We are seeing institutional changes as a result of this shift. Colleges and universities are starting to move from long lectures into breaking up the class period into lecture and discussions. This is to stimulate our brains, actively engaging in different ways to keep us thinking. The professional world is starting to build offices with a more open concept, to instigate discussions and conversations with other colleagues. Furthermore, offices are creating snack and leisure spaces to facilitate necessary breaks. So yes, we can’t pay attention for long but it’s not the end of the world.

Cover Image Credit: weekendowo

Popular Right Now

Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
785388
views

You won’t see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won’t laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won’t go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They’ll miss you. They’ll cry.

You won’t fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won’t get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won’t be there to wipe away your mother’s tears when she finds out that you’re gone.

You won’t be able to hug the ones that love you while they’re waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won’t be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won’t find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won’t celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won’t turn another year older.

You will never see the places you’ve always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You’ll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it’s not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don’t let today be the end.

You don’t have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It’s not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I’m sure you’re no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won’t do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you’ll be fine.” Because when they aren’t, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

For help, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

6 Mistakes I Realized I Was Making Thanks To My Calorie Counter App

The truth is that recently I gained some pounds, so I asked myself, "how?"

924
views

You know I am obsessed about my weight. The worst part is that I am not skinny. People always ask me why I am in a permanent diet; the answer is I can gain weight if I am not careful. The truth is that recently I gained some weight. It is not too much, but enough to notice in my clothes.

I asked myself, "how?" Ok, I do not go to the gym enough, but I eat healthily. Most of my food is homemade and I go to eat out only once in a while. Why did I get more weight? Because I am too lazy to start a daily workout routine, I chose to download a calorie-count-app.

It was a revelation. I discovered a lot of little details I was doing which were sabotaging my diet.

1. Almond flour.

Pezibear

Almond flour is an excellent replacement of regular flour. It has a good kind of fat and proteins. The problem is almond flour is high in calories. 1 cup has 600 calories. I don't eat one cup per day, but I use it in a cake that I eat for a couple of days which means I am getting like 120 calories per day only with that.

2. Prosciutto.

Efes

I am Prosciutto's fan. I love it. I know it is not my healthiest option, but it is a guilty pleasure. Until now, I thought it was really bad for me to eat this kind of food; however, I discovered that one ounce of prosciutto has 50 calories which is the best. I can eat prosciutto with no regrets (of course, I know it has too much sodium, but still).

3. Protein bar.

Efes

These days I am into protein bars for two reasons. First, they help me to eat something "sweet" when I am hungry or anxious. Second, they help me with my daily portion of proteins. On weekdays, I do not eat any kind of meat; then, I must be careful about my proteins. I just realized one of the protein bars I was taking has 290 calories. That is a lot.

4. Olive oil.

stevepb

I am a fan of the Mediterranean diet, and I love to add some olive oil in my meals. I like its taste; I always read olive oil has many good qualities. However, one spoon of olive oil is 100 calories. It means I was adding 100 calories with no reason to my food.

5. Dinner soup.

Barnimages

Each night, my dinner is a homemade plate of vegetable soup. Believe me, I am not a big fan of soups, but it is my best option: it is hot, full of flavor, makes me feel full and it has few calories. The problem was that trying to make my soup more interesting, sometimes, I added some olive oil and one Mexican tortilla. The olive oil has 100 calories and the tortilla has 130 calories. Then, I was working hard to have a low-calorie meal, and I added in over 200 calories.

I stop eating Mexican tortillas. I love them because vegetarian burritos are a good idea for my lunch. Again, this idea cost me 260 calories per meal.

6.  Chocolate.

Kaboompics

I am a chocolate addict. These days, I do not eat as much chocolate I used to do. However, I need a small piece every day. Recently, I found an amazing bar of Godiva chocolate. It is delicious. The surprise was it has 130 calories per piece. That is the same than one protein bar or two Milano's cookies.

I do not want you to freak out; the idea is we can be more careful about the small decisions we make. If I am going to get calories I preferer to eat Milanos cookies than tortillas or only a piece of chocolate.

Related Content

Facebook Comments