I am definitely not an attentive person. I can’t sit through an entire Lord of the Rings Movie without being distracted in one way or another (just ask my boyfriend, they’re his favourite movies). Being interested in where this attention-span study could take me, I researched into average statistics. According to a study conducted by Microsoft Canada, the average person’s attention span in 2013 was eight seconds, compared to the goldfish with an average of nine seconds (woah). This has dwindled since the ripe old attention span of 12 seconds that we had back in 2000.

Source: Microsoft Canada

Source: Microsoft Canada

In Google’s ‘The New Multi Screened World’, they state that majority of our time is spent in front of screens. These include laptops, tablets, phones and televisions – and many are used at the same time! These devices have become so dynamic that we now have the ability to use them all at once, thus resulting in shorter attention spans.

In Microsoft Canada’s study, they stated that there are three types of attention spans:

  • Sustained (prolonged focus)
    Maintaining prolonged focus during repetitive activities
  • Selective (avoiding distraction)
    Maintaining response in the face of distracting or competing stimuli
  • Alternating (Efficiently switching between tasks)
    Shifting attention between tasks demanding different cognitive skills

I’m not the best person to talk to when it comes to Attention Spans, although, there’s nothing like sitting through all 10 seasons of FRIENDS (for the 4th time). When studying, I probably have facebook open on both my computer and my phone, along with twitter and Instagram. Sometimes I even clean my room instead of studying (oh the joy!).

I wanted to test out my attention-span along with my boyfriend Peter’s. Whilst watching TV one night (Biggest Loser to be exact), Peter and I put to the test what we do when it comes to multi-screening and distractions when watching TV. There’s nothing like families trying to lose weight by pulling an aircraft together. This task was set after researching a study conducted Symphony Advanced Media, which identifies 30-40% of a selective group that used their mobile phone whilst watching TV.

Through monitoring mine and Peter’s behaviour whilst watching TV, it was evident that:

  • We used our phones more during advertising
  • After putting our phones away, we would converse more, go to the fridge and get food, or search through the TV guide
  • We are selective to what we pay attention too
  • Phones, iPads and laptops remained within reaching distance

I’m unsure if there’s ways to expand my attention span, but I guess I’ll have to try if I want to pass my exams this semester (oh joy!). I definitely know what I’m googling next…


  • Advanced Media,. ‘Cross-Media Advertising Effectiveness Using Passive Measurement Of Ad Exposure’. N.p., 2015. Web. 14th Sept. 2015.
  • Microsoft Canada, ‘Attention spans’, research report 2015, viewed September 14th 2015
  • Google document, ‘The new multi-screen world: understanding cross-platform consumer behaviour’, viewed 14th September 2015,

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Yeah Nah Aye

Matt Starr - UOW

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Media and communications student - aspiring blogger - Kmart lover - professional procrastinator



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