Part 1: From Goldfish to Gadgets: The Alarming Evolution of Our Attention Spans and Employee Training

How long is the average human attention span? About as long as it takes to read this sentence plus or minus a few words, which is a little surprising or possibly alarming, wouldn’t you agree? Researchers have found that our attention spans have decreased significantly over the past 20 years. In 2004, the average attention span on any screen was 150 seconds. By 2012 it was down to 75 seconds, and now the average attention span is 8.25 seconds – less than the attention span of a goldfish (9 seconds). What in the world happened? One word: Technology.


Take a moment and think about the last time you had a tech-free day. No text messages. No email notifications. No aimless social media scrolling. No web surfing. It may feel hard to think of the last time you had a tech-free hour, let alone a tech-free day. We often find ourselves tethered to our computers and phones which serve as an unending source of distraction. The increased use of the internet and digital devices satisfy our need for instant gratification, but also harm our ability to concentrate. Does it sometimes feel impossible to concentrate deeply on anything for a substantial amount of time? If so, you aren’t alone!

Our lack of attention has become so pervasive that other industries are taking notice. The lengths of shots in TV and film have decreased dramatically over the years. Older films may have shot lengths that last 30 seconds or more. Now they average about 4 seconds in length. With the advent of television, it was not uncommon for commercials in the 1950s to last 1 minute or more. By the 1970s that time decreased to 30 seconds and by the 1990s it dropped further to 15 seconds. Today commercials average 6 seconds.

Wow, You Are Still Here!

While we have less overall patience for video-based media (like commercials), we have next to no patience for text. On the average web page, users will read 28% of the words during a single visit. Content with more than 200 words of text is significantly less likely to be read than those with 50 to 125 words. (If you are still reading this, you have clocked 382 words in this blog post. Impressive!)

Stay tuned for our next post when we explore how to fight attention fatigue in employee training.

Until then, Tyfoom is committed to helping companies develop transformative learning cultures. To learn more about how you can revolutionize employee training, communication and engagement in your organization, schedule a meeting to speak with a Tyfoom training consultant.