Microsoft: Gadgets Have Ruined Our Already Limited Attention Spans

As we integrate more and more digital devices into our lives, are we becoming more stupid? Not so, according to some Microsoft research. In fact, the company believes that because of our digital gluttony, our brains have evolved to allow us to process lesser-important information quicker than ever.

Lacking attention spans is a major concern of advertisers, because if someone looks at an ad for less than a second, it's not going to have much of an impact. Or at least that's what Microsoft believed before it set out to do its research. It now believes that even those who use multiple screens still process information fast, such as advertisements. In its words, "Connected consumers are becoming better at doing more with less via shorter bursts of high attention and more efficient encoding to memory."

Microsoft Attention Span

Just because we can process things quicker doesn't mean that advertisers don't have to worry. Microsoft encourages quick and to-the-point advertising, because otherwise, people are going to ignore it. How many times have you skipped an ad on YouTube because the option became available before the ad got to the point? I've even humored ads in the past, watching them for 20 seconds, and still didn't know what I was being sold.

There are some interesting tidbits in Microsoft's report that non-advertisers can eat up. For example, Microsoft found that 77% of persons aged 18 - 24 grab their phone during a lull, while that number plummets to 10% for those 65 and over. Likewise, 52% check their phone at least once per every 30 minutes, while 6% of those over 65 do. The stat with the closest parity is with regards to using mobile devices while watching TV - 79% of those aged between 18 - 24 do, and for 65+, 42% do.

You can hit up the link below to download the full PDF and see how far you can get through it without becoming distracted.