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Why People Now Have a Shorter Attention Span than Goldfish


by Glenn Shepard
June 20, 2017
Category: Management




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Did You Know?

About 71% of military age Americans does not meet the physical or mental requirements to serve.
Source: The Pentagon

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8 seconds...

That’s the attention span of an average human today.

9 seconds…

That’s the attention span of a goldfish.

The average human now has a shorter attention span than goldfish do – LITERALLY.

But it wasn’t always that way. Back in the year 2000, the average person had an attention span of 15 seconds. This means attention spans are about half of what they were just a few years ago.

These figures came from a major study conducted by Microsoft from 2000 to 2015, which concluded that smart phones were largely to blame.

This study also found that 77% of 18 to 24-year-olds said yes to “When nothing is occupying my attention, the first thing I do is reach for my phone”. By comparison, 10% of those over 65 answered yes to this.

Smart phones have made us all less smart.

But even if smart phones had not come into our lives, we would still have a problem with shorter attention spans.

Here’s why.

Think back when you were a kid and went on vacation with your parents. You had to ride in the back seat for hours, and were bored out of your brain.

Remember what you did back then?

You played games. You looked for a tag from every state. You read a book. You did something to entertain yourself.
But there’s virtually no kid in America today who’s ever ridden in the back seat without a DVD player, iPad, or some other electronic device to keep them constantly entertained.

The problem is that once that constant, never-ending flow of electrons into Junior’s brain is interrupted, he has a hard time maintaining focus.

When he grows up and enters the workforce, he’ll be great at a job that requires him to work on a computer, or involves lots of multitasking to keep him engaged. But if he has to perform one serial task all day long, he’s going to have a hard time doing it.

This is why manufacturers are having such a hard time finding young people to work in their factories. Even though their fathers and grandfathers worked there, and even though the work environment is clean and the job pays very well, most young people just don’t want jobs like that any more.

So the next time you think that your youngest employees are having a hard time staying focused on what should be a simple task, there might be a good reason for it.

To Your Success,


Glenn Shepard

The constant electronic stimulation is now everywhere. Notice how many baby strollers now have iPad holders.

P.P.S. The drop in attention spans is why the average length of articles in this newsletter has dropped from 700 words in 2006 to 400 words today. And why the first sentence is now 5 words or less.

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