Oh oh! Our Brains are Hyper Distracted on New Media
Media multitasking is really multi-distracting
For companies that rely on TV or the Internet to communicate with consumers, the findings raise questions about the effectiveness of the two channels as means to garner the attention of potential customers.
Multitaskers who think they can successfully divide their attention between the program on their television set and the information on their computer screen proved to be driven to distraction by the two devices…“What we found is that when people try to pay attention to multiple media simultaneously they are switching back and forth at an astounding rate”…when it comes to the dominant medium in this side-by-side challenge, the computer comes out the winner, drawing the attention of the study participants 68.4 percent of the time. But neither device proved capable of holding the attention of study participants for very long, regardless of their age. The median length of gaze lasted less than two seconds for television and less than six seconds for the computer, the researchers found. It’s not just younger people who are rapid-fire switching between media; men and women over 40 who participated in the study still switched an average of nearly 100 times in 27.5 minutes. It was rare that a person looked at either screen for more than a minute. Just 7.5 percent of all computer gazes and 2.9 percent of all glances at the television lasted longer than 60 seconds, the study found.
For both parents and marketers, a new media age has arrived with profound effects. The researchers note the study did not take into account the impact of another ubiquitous device that’s now a staple of the media mix: the mobile phone.
“Clearly, the rules we developed for the mono-media culture no longer apply,” said Brasel. “Our assumptions about how people are using media need to be updated. The era of the mono-media environment is over.”