So this week has got me thinking about one’s ability to multitask when using multiple devices. I personally will sit in the lounge room at night watching TV with the fam, laptop on lap and phone resting on my laptop. How do I go between all three devices and still converse with my parents successfully? Well the truth is, I probably can’t.
Ironically enough I can’t observe myself doing things I want to observe myself doing whilst doing the things I want to observe myself doing…did that make sense? Oh guess what, my lecturer just asked me to answer a question while I’m writing this post, guess what I have no idea what she was talking about because I can’t focus on writing this at the same time as paying attention to the lecture slides. On the plus side, it took me about an hour and a half to complete the last sentence because I was focused (distracted) by the lecture I am in.
So instead of testing myself I planned to observe my mum as we sat down to watch the block reveals on a Sunday night after dinner. I was going to observe 4 things; her focus on her phone, on the TV, on her iPad and on me. This articular night was room reveals, which meant they were being scored on their rooms, which made for a great measure of attention span. I was going to tally how many times she looked at her phone and ipad, if she could recall the scores given on which couple and if she could talk to me about booking my 21st birthday celebrations.
Before I get into what happened, let me run through some relevant information that related to the whole concept of multitasking and media devices. So attention is a big thing. There are three types of attention; “sustained, which involved prolonged focus, Selective, where the individual avoids distraction and alternating involve efficiently switching between tasks” (Consumer Insights, Microsoft Canada 2015). Consumer insights also divulges that 74% of 18-24 year olds will often use other devices while watching TV.
Now back to mum. I decided to sort of nit pick at a few variable whilst The Block was on, before the first adbreak, mum had not since put her iPad down, switching between Facebook (which involved pointless scrolling) and some game app that she’s obsessed with. I had asked her who’s room she like the best to which she responded, oh I don’t really know yet I’ll have to wait to see them finished; mind blowing considering they had just showed previews of all the finished rooms that were about to be revealed.
Because of the informal nature of this test I too was screen switching between the TV and my phone and quickly lost count of the times she was on her phone or iPad. However once Scotty was doing the scoring I noticed that her attention would always come back to the television because of the type of song being played when something exciting or bad was happening, when I asked her questions like “what did the boys score” or “what did Neil say about their room”, she generally had paid quite a lot of attention to the general idea of what was going on. Being quite impressed with the outcome of the experiment, I told her what I had done during the course of the show and asked for her permission to write about my ‘findings’ on here. She of course was ecstatic that she had ‘passed the test’ and was quite chuffed that she was able to multi-task so well. I don’t know if this was just another one of those ‘mum superpower things’ but I can assure you that the times something came up on my phone that my interest and attention away from the TV, I totally missed what was going on.
Kudos to you mum
Until next mi amigos, keep it real
Consumer Insights, Microsoft Canada 2015, Attention spans, [online], Toronto, Microsoft, pp. 6 – 24, viewed 24 September 2016, <https://advertising.microsoft.com/en/WWDocs/User/display/cl/researchreport/31966/en/microsoft-attention-spans-research-report.pdf>.