Mindfulness

The Internet Has Broken Our Attention Spans, Or Has It

As we exist in life with more social media accounts than manageable and even more tabs, the Internet feels like it has shortened our attention spans. Kate Leaver explores whether information-overload has changed our neurological pathways.

By Kate Leaver

Mindfulness

As we exist in life with more social media accounts than manageable and even more tabs, the Internet feels like it has shortened our attention spans. Kate Leaver explores whether information-overload has changed our neurological pathways.

By Kate Leaver

I am forever clutching my phone – when I wander from room to room, when I take my dog for a walk, even when I’m eating. I open it more times in a day than I’m willing to count or admit, each time refreshing Instagram, Twitter and Gmail in case something scintillating has happened while I was living my life. It’s become a sort of comfort object, a hand-held portal into a world bigger than my immediate one, perhaps even an addiction. I gaze at it longingly on public transport, run an Instagram page not just for myself but also my dog, and answer emails at ludicrous out-of-hours times. I even double-screen at night-time in front of the telly, scrolling through my various apps, missing crucial plot developments. I’m not the only one who is guilty of this, of course. A recent survey by Radio Times found that two thirds of global viewers are ‘baffled’ by the television shows they’re watching because they’re too busy looking at their phones to follow the plot. Sixty-eight per cent of Australians confessed to “double-screening” and being confused by what’s going on in their favourite shows.

Meanwhile, I feel like I can’t even disappear entirely into a book anymore. Even when I’m working, I’m multi-tasking. I’ve started to worry that my scrolling habit has changed the way my brain works. I was three years old when the internet was invented, so I don’t have a terribly clear concept of what life was like before we existed online. Though, of course the internet has infiltrated our lives even more in recent years, especially since the advent of platforms like Facebook, which are fastidiously designed to keep us returning to them for a dopamine hit. I’ve begun to wonder: what exactly has the internet done to our attention spans?

You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $4 a month.

Join the club

Already a member? Sign in

You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $4 a month.

Join the club

Already a member? Sign in