September 17, 2021

Social Media and Our Attention Span

Hannah Elliott

Technology and social media have decreased our attention span, especially recently in the era of Instagram Stories that you can click through if you don’t feel like watching and 15-second TikToks. Studies have shown that our attention span has decreased from twelve seconds in 2000 down to the average person having an attention span of eight seconds now. 

To put it into perspective, a goldfish has an attention span of nine seconds, meaning we now have a harder time paying attention to things than goldfishes. 

Often you may find yourself scrolling through Instagram looking at each picture on your feed until the five seconds of entertainment are up and you move on to the next photo. 

Brands and corporations everywhere are having to tailor their marketing techniques to the dwindling attention span and have to come up with branding and posts that are quick and to the point, as to not lose the interest of the viewer. Tips for brands to hold users attention:

  • Each piece of content should only have one main idea
  • In written pieces, use plenty of graphics and examples
  • Have an early hook or story arch to maintain engagement

The Ohio State University adds that for students, even when the distractor is taken or put away, it’s harder to keep and maintain their attention, affecting their work and how much school work they are able to retain during the school day.

The sheer amount of information we are getting shown has an affect on us too; we get too much information in front of us at once, and often choose to forfeit it altogether as it can feel like its too much information to take in, affecting our stamina to take in any form of long amounts of information. 

Muck Rack reports that mobile users on Facebook spend about 1.7 seconds on any given piece of content. “This presents a huge challenge for brands when it comes to getting their marketing message across”. “Instagram is the second-largest platform next to Facebook, though 60% of users state that they are constantly connected to Instagram”. 

If you have stuck around this long you either defied the odds of short attention spans or you skipped to the end to see what the wrap-up of this blog will be and if it’ll be important. The takeaway is that our attention spans aren’t getting any longer as of now so it’s important for brands and influencers to bring people into their content with a hook and keep it short and sweet.

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14 thoughts on “Social Media and Our Attention Span

  1. I loved reading this article and the stats that went with it. To understand that my attention span is likely worse than that of a goldfish is not what I wanted to hear today – but I must learn to accept it. This reminded me that I do have a short attention span because I get bored very quickly on social media.

  2. Wow! This post makes so much sense. I have found that my attention span has become quite short and I’m constantly getting distracted by the many things within my environment. I wonder in what ways I can limit the amount of social media and other forms of entertainment in which I receive in order to gain some of it back. Hopefully it’s not gone for forever!

  3. I think this is a really interesting and unexpected side effect of social media. Hopefully over time we can develop healthier habits that don’t limit our attention span as much. I can relate to this though as the more time I spend on social media the more I’m constantly looking for something new to entertain myself with.

  4. Hi Hannah! I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I think it is really interesting to hear about how social media is changing our attention span. It was really interesting to see that we are starting to have less of an attention span than goldfish, which was really powerful to put into your blog. Overall, I thought you did a really good job on this blog post!

  5. Hannah Esquenazi
    Hey Hannah, you’re absolutely right that our attention spans are now scarily short! I often have to have multiple things going at once to stay occupied. It’s really concerning that we can’t focus on things like we used to and unfortunately, technology and social media are the main culprits. You did an amazing job on your blog post!

  6. You mentioning that goldfish have longer attention spans than the average human really put this into perspective to me. It’s kinda sad honestly! But I do think that it’s very important for businesses to tailor their ads and content to this statistic. I enjoyed reading your post, thank you.

  7. I really enjoyed this article and the stats you used to back it up. I’ve actually noticed my attention span become incredibly shorter because of Tik Tok. So much of the time I thought I spent a reasonable time on social media until I noticed my sleep being effected and my ability to focus. This was a really good topic idea.

  8. I loved this article and the stats you used. As someone who has ADHD, I really resonated with this article. Personally, I feel that my attention span has become even shorter as a result of spending so much time on social media platforms such as TikTok. I feel that it has effected my sleep as well. Thank you for a very informative article!!

  9. Hi Hannah! I really enjoyed reading this article and blog post!I relate to everything you wrote, as I constantly check my screen time and notice the increase of screen time during COVID-19 quarantine. I really liked your example with Ohio State University and the study on attention span. I believe the university that I attend to would benefit from this.

  10. I have to say I love this report. It’s a mixture of research and deep information that can be taken and applied to individuals daily lives. I did a couple of WR 121 papers that focused on the attention span and utilization of social media altering the average individuals attention span. I believe Drake quote from Scorpion I used about girls traveling and using old pictures on social media to make it seem like their living a lavish lifestyle embodied how social media effected individuals attention span in my perspective.

  11. I love this report. It’s a mixture of research and deep information that can be taken and applied to individuals daily lives. I did a couple of WR 121 papers that focused on the attention span and utilization of social media altering the average individuals attention span. I believe Drake quote from Scorpion I used about girls traveling and using old pictures on social media to make it seem like their living a lavish lifestyle embodied how social media effected individuals attention span in my perspective.

  12. Hi Hannah, it’s really interesting with the attention span now being 8 seconds. Brands and companies definitely have to get more creative in how they market and appeal to consumers, especially the younger generations.

  13. This is a great post! I hear people casually talk about how our attention span is decreasing, but it was very interesting to learn about the stats that go along with it. Hearing it compared to the attention span of a goldfish really shocked me. Great work!

  14. This is a great topic to cover because I feel like it’s something that all of us can relate to in this digital age. As I’ve gotten older, my social media and electronic device usage has increased and because of this, I find myself getting bored much easier. Whether I’m scrolling on a social media feed, trying to pay attention to an hour long lecture, or even picking up a new hobby, these days it’s hard for me to stay entertained and stick with it. I’m sure a huge part of that is this ‘constant scrolling culture’ and it’s definitely something I want to work on.

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