Attention span

15 martie 2009
Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted.
Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus one’s
attention on a task is crucial for the achievement of one’s goals.

Length of the span

Attention span varies with age, with older children capable of longer periods of attention than younger children.[1]
The type of activity is also an important consideration, as people are
generally capable of a longer attention span when they are doing
something that they find enjoyable or intrinsically motivating.

Estimates for the length of human attention span are highly variable
and range from 3 to 5 minutes per year of age in young children, to a
maximum of around 20 minutes in adults.[2]
Nevertheless, the average movie lasts approximately two hours, and most
adults can follow the plot with only minimal lapses of attention.

Continuous attention span, or the amount of time a human can focus
on an object without any lapse at all, is very brief and may be as
short as 8 seconds.[3]
After this amount of time, it is likely that an individual’s eyes will
shift focus, or that a stray thought will briefly enter consciousness.
Fortunately, these short lapses are only minimally distracting and do
not tend to interfere with task performance.

Bookmark: Effects_of_temperament

[edit] Effects of temperament

In an early study of attention span, the mothers of 232 pairs of
twins were interviewed periodically about the similarities and
differences in behavior displayed by their twins during infancy and
early childhood. The results showed that each of the behavioral
variables (temper frequency, temper intensity, irritability, crying,
and demanding attention) had a significant inverse relationship with
attention span. In other words, the twin with longer attention span,
who was better able to remain absorbed in a particular activity without
distraction, was also the less temperamental twin.[4]

Bookmark: Historical_differences

[edit] Historical differences

The attention span of humans is apparently much shorter than it used to be. Neil Postman discusses this in his book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. One of his examples is the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. These lasted for hours in front of a sustained audience, whereas modern debates do not approach that length.[5]

The instant gratification
made possible by modern technology appears to have had a detrimental
effect on attention span. One study of 2600 children found that early
exposure to television (around age two) is associated with later
attention problems at age seven.[6][7]
Internet browsing may have a similar effect because it enables rapid
viewing. Most internet users spend less than one minute on the average
It may be wise for parents to limit television and internet use in
children and encourage them to read books instead. A gradual
progression to longer books could be an effective way to develop a
healthy attention span.

Bookmark: See_also

[edit] See also

Bookmark: References

[edit] References

  1. ^ Ruff, H. A. & Lawson, K. R. (1990). Development of sustained, focused attention in young children during free play. Developmental Psychology, 26, 85-93.
  2. ^ Wandering attention span Retrieved October 23, 2008.
  3. ^ Wandering attention span Retrieved October 23, 2008.
  4. ^ Wilson, R. S., Brown, A. M., & Matheny, A. P. Jr. (1971). Emergence and Persistence of Behavioral Differences in Twins. Child Development, 42, 1381-1398.
  5. ^ Nunley, K. F. (2004). Keeping Pace with Today’s Quick Brains Retrieved October 23, 2008.
  6. ^ Christakis,
    D. A., Zimmerman, F. J., DiGiuseppe, D. L., & McCarty, C. A.
    (2004). Early television exposure and subsequent attentional problems
    in children. Pediatrics, 113, 708-713.
  7. ^ Editorial from The Washington Times Retrieved October 23, 2008.
  8. ^ BBC article on how the internet affects attention span Retrieved October 23, 2008.

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