Bite-sized content kills attention span

As short-form video platforms are on the rise, young people are losing focus.

Ted Power, a counsellor at College of the North Atlantic Prince Philip Drive campus. With a smile on his face, sitting in his office with book behind him, talking about changes in people's habits in social media usage.
Ted Power is a counsellor at College of the North Atlantic’s Prince Philip Drive campus. Short-form media platforms, he says, keeps the viewer’s interest by changing topics frequently and it ends up shortening people’s attention span. Clifton Tam/ Kicker

Clifton Tam
Kicker

Smartphones are a double-edged sword. While the technology has made communication easier, the impact on attention spans cannot be ignored.

According to a study from King’s College London, more than half of the participants agree their smartphone has become a distraction when they are trying to focus on other things. Some 49 per cent agree they feel their attention span is shorter than it used to be.

Ted Power, a counsellor at College of the North Atlantic’s Prince Philip Drive campus, says technology plays a significant role in affecting people’s attention span. The way people absorb information has changed drastically since the internet came out.

“Overall, people’s attention spans are dropping, they are diminishing … the way we communicate is changing,” said Power.

Sanuda Ranawake is a TikTok content creator in St. John’s. He notices people’s attention span is dropping because people are more likely to watch short videos on social media.

According to Statista, the average TikTok video is 34 seconds.

“It’s pretty addicting, I can see that,” said Ranawake. “I have friends and family that spend hours on (TikTok). I’m sure everyone does, you know, it’s nothing new.”

People are living in the age of information overload, says Power.

Users can get their news anywhere with a simple swipe of the fingertip.

There are too many things happening around us on social media nowadays, Power says. And sometimes, he says, it’s necessary for people to shorten their attention span to adapt to the modern information environment.

One of the reasons why short videos have become popular is because it is convenient, says Power. The bite-sized content and eye-catching visuals are always easy to fit in when people are on the run.

With the fast-paced media platform, Ranawake says if you don’t grab people’s attention in the first couple of seconds, you’ve lost them. The brevity of the videos leads to misinformation, Ranawake says.

“Are you really getting the full picture in the 15- or 20-second video? That’s a big concern,” Ranawake said.

It is hard for short video creators to paint a full picture for people in that seconds-long video, Ranawake says, and that is how the misinformation can spread.

Although people’s attention span might be shrinking, it doesn’t mean people can’t concentrate or focus, says Power.

“Focus is like anything, it’s like studying, it’s like walking, it’s like practising a sport,” said Power. “It’s like practising anything, the more time you spend at it, you get better at it.”

Preparation helps reduce mental barriers to focusing, he says, keep it simple and don’t overthink things.

“Don’t overthink it, just set yourself on autopilot,” said Power.


About the Author

About Clifton Tam 16 Articles
Clifton Tam is a student journalist studying at the College of the North Atlantic. He loves sharing stories related to people’ lives.

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