Paying attention to the world behind your phone

Where conversation’s now take place in the form of Emojis and limits to 140 characters, our attention span to the outside world has shortened.

Sometimes a photo or video can help prove a point, this one in particular is a great example to reflect on the way society has become accustom to using their phones as an everyday tool.

Beginning with the video shows a powerful message that we have become unrecognisable without our phones; they have officially become apart of who we are and what we do. So how many of us actually pay attention to our surroundings and attentively listen to those in our company?

To gain an understanding on a human’s attention span I decided to watch someone who is constantly on her phone, my mum. Over a two day period I realised how much she is attached to her phone. During the first 24 hours, I didn’t tell her I was watching her so that she wouldn’t subconsciously not touch her phone. I watched her for hours turn over from Candy Crush, to Facebook, to her emails, and back to Facebook.

Although she was constantly looking back and forth from her phone, she was also cooking, working, and cleaning at the same time. (Unfortunately I’m not as good as a multitasker). The next day I explained to her what was happening and as I thought, she hardly touched her phone…instead she turned to her computer to work all day without any distractions.

It was weird to see her change her ways once I told her I would be watching. But if I were to be in her company she will be hearing me instead of listening attentively.


A recent study by Microsoft Corporation, based in Canada, has found this digital lifestyle has made it difficult for us to stay focused, with the human attention span shortening from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade.

“The findings revealed human attention span has fallen from an average of 12 seconds in the year 2000 to just eight seconds today. Humans now have less of an attention span than a goldfish (nine seconds average)”

Although this is noticeably a negative factor in today’s society, researchers believe the, positive?, is that the ability to multitask has significantly improved.

And yet having the memory of a gold fish has now become a compliment to humans…

The Microsoft study findings coincide with a 2014 study by the British unit of advertising buyer OMD that found the average person shifts their attention between their smartphone, tablet and laptop 21 times in an hour.

This actually got me thinking, even writing this post and reading the findings, I found myself checking my phone for notifications – also because I wanted to stalk a few more people on Instagram…besides the point.

To get this point of attention span across to you on a deeper level, the American Psychological Association researched the affects of attention and driving to distraction. It was said that, whether hand-held or hands-off, their attention to the road drops and driving skills become even worse than if they had too much to drink.

In one study, when drivers talked on a cell phone, their reactions to imperative events (such as braking for a traffic light or a decelerating vehicle) were significantly slower than when they were not talking on the cell phone.

I want to conclude on an emotional video that I hope will get the point of concentrating and focus across whilst driving.


So not only do we have a slower attention than a fish, but we have taught ourselves to depend on our mobile phones to connect with people rather than giving our full attention to not only the world, but our own safety.

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