In this digital era, it is obvious that a large proportion of people are experiencing multi-screening, which can be referred to ‘the use of multiple digital devices at once’ (Marais 2013). This results in the fact that human’s attention span on one thing is being reduced and by the time of 2015, the average human’s attention span is just 8 seconds, which is less than that of a goldfish (9 seconds) (Watson 2015).
Young people, or millennials, are among the most likely to multi-screen. According to a Nielsen study in 2015, 92% of millennials surveyed responded that they used a smartphone or tablet while watching TV (Birkner 2015). I myself can relate to this phenomenon as I tend to use my smartphone while watching TV or sometimes the smartphone distracts me intentionally with text messages or Facebook notifications. As a result, people’s attention span as well as the way they consume media have changed dramatically. Therefore, in order to write this blog, I decided to design and implement an multi-media devices attention test with the participation of a person around my age to reinforce and confirm this phenomenon.
The participant in this test is my housemate who is 25 years old and I will call him Justin in this blog (this is his English name). I decided to show Justin the last minutes of NBA Finals 2016 game 7 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The reason I choose this footage is because I consider this is one of the best moments ever in the history of the NBA and it will be able to capture Justin’s attention. Justin also did not know about the game as well as its result because he is not really a basketball fan.
However, I made a little adjustment to the clip as I cut off the last seconds which the Cleveland Cavaliers were about the celebrate their championship and replaced by the last seconds from game 2, in which the Cavaliers lost.The two games were held in the same place which was Oracle Arena in Oakland and everything from the crowd to the players were mostly the same. You can see the transition at 9:36.
While he was watching, I kept texting him to ask about the process and tagging his Facebook in posts that are of his interests such as sneakers or food. I maintained our interaction on Facebook by commenting and replying to him to distract him from watching the game and pushing the activity to its peak at the moment the clip was cut and transitioned. After he finished, I asked him which team won and undoubtedly, he responded the Warriors. I also asked him whether he was sure about his response and whether he noticed any thing abnormal but the decision was kept. Afterward, Justin was told to move the clip back and take a look at the uniform of the Cavaliers and compare it with the last seconds. Not until that time did he realized that they were wearing slightly different costumes as those in game 2 were in deep blue and black in game 7.
This small test clearly showed that our attention is spreaded significantly while multi-screening and of course we tend to pay attention to something more appealing. It is interesting that we are witnessing and experiencing the establishment of the ‘attention economy‘ where there are too many contents around us and therefore, our attention becomes valuable (Ingram 2015).
Marais, S 2013, The Rise of the Multi-Screen Phenomenon: What Multitasking Means for Digital Marketers, Media Vision, viewed September 16th 2016, <http://www.mediavisioninteractive.com/blog/facts-and-figures/the-multi-screen-phenomenon>
Watson, L 2015, Humans have shorter attention span than goldfish, thanks to smartphones, The Telegraph, viewed September 16th 2016, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/humans-have-shorter-attention-span-than-goldfish-thanks-to-smart/>
Birkner, C 2015, Millennials’ Attention Divided Across Devices More Than Other Age Groups, Study Finds, American Marketing Association, viewed September 16th 2016, <https://www.ama.org/publications/eNewsletters/Marketing-News-Weekly/Pages/millennials-attention-devices.aspx>
Ingram, M 2015, The attention economy and the implosion of traditional media, Fortune, viewed September 16th 2016, <http://fortune.com/2015/08/12/attention-economy/>