Why our shrinking attention spans might be a good thing

man looking at mobile phone in café e
Image credit: Newscred

Our supposedly shrinking attention spans are a hot topic these days—as you may have seen on TV or heard on a podcast or read on Twitter or glimpsed on your watch or else just intuited from the antsy melancholy of those few unbearable minutes each morning between when you open your eyes and when you first reach for your phone.

Yet blaming smartphones for our distractibility feels too easy—human attention has always been fleeting. A study conducted several years before the first iPhone was unveiled found that workers spent an average of just two minutes using a particular tool or document before switching to another. Moreover, interruptions may have a silver lining. Many workers who were insulated from distraction by website-blocking software became more aware of time’s passage and were able to work for longer stretches—but also reported higher stress levels as a result of their sustained focus.

Related article:  30 years later in Romania: What happened to the babies deprived of human contact?

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Ultimately, it’s worth asking: How long do we really want our attention span to be? A little mindfulness can be grounding, while too much sustained focus can dial up our stress levels. What’s lacking these days, then, may not be attention so much as moderation in the face of countless stimuli that are simultaneously diverting and engrossing.

Read full, original post: The Benefits of a Short Attention Span

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