Who Dunnit? How well did you score?
The question that is asked throughout many programs on prime-time TV these days (whether directly asked or indirectly referred to), is ‘have you been paying attention?’ The Channel Ten Network has recently aired a show named just that (Have You Been Paying Attention), of which Australian ‘celebrities’ and comedians are quizzed on the current events that have happened in the week before the episode airs, usually the events broadcasted on various news media and forums. In a bid to outsmart my brother, I sat down with him on Monday (28/9/15) to answer all the questions fired at the contestants, of which whoever answered the most correctly was crowned the greatest sibling (we completely disregarded our other brother and sister, whoops #SiblingRivalry).
Being an avid media viewer and seeking the latest news most mornings when I wake up and check my Twitter and Facebook feeds, sometimes even Instagram, I thought I would have an advantage to my brother, although I was quite surprised with the amount of answers he knew (maybe he spends too much time watching TV – that’s what I assume anyway). Answering questions ranging from the latest political debates, all the way to the latest happenings and drama on the Bachelorette there was one thing that was made clear to me… no matter how engaged you are in the content that is being produced in front of you, if you have heard the information from somewhere, wether it was a news headline, or a Tweet, if it is important enough to YOU, you will retain it in your memory. I sprung this little rivalry on my brother very last minute as didn’t want him having much of an advantage by researching the latest news stories and breaking news happenings (I kind of just wanted to win to be honest), and I wanted to look at the raw findings and whether my hypothesis (whether news and information will be retained no matter how much attention is paid to it) would come true or not.
In order for this little experiment to be reliable and not produce skewed results, it would need to be repeated on a weekly basis, of which I don’t have time to do with my brother considering our busy lifestyles and clashing timetables, although I’m sure it will happen in the future, regardless of whether I pull findings from it or not. Conclusively, my hypothesis somewhat rang true, in the fact that no matter how much research I did about current events and breaking news stories, and the little amount my brother did, we were still able answer a considerable amount of the questions that were given to the contestants with confidence, of which I couldn’t actually draw a clear winner from. Although it was a game between myself and my brother, I really just wanted to draw some findings.
- No matter how much attention is actually paid to information, if it is important to he individual, they’ll retain it in their memory.
- Breaking news events and controversial topics will always be the information that is retained the most and often more talked/posted about.
- Just a glimpse at a news story or headline gives an individual enough information to talk about a news topic or current information – provided it’s importance to the individual.
Considering the amount of attention we pay to social media and ‘smart’ devices, these findings were considerably surprising as attention spans have typically been shortened due to the rapid pace of information that is accessible nowadays. In a report (March, 2012) written by Bernard J. Luskin in Psychology Today, Luskin examines the psychological affects that media consumption has on individuals, reporting on the affects of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), which is supported by previous studies of the disorder.
“In short term, some people use broadcast and internet media as a mental and emotional retreat and refuge” says Luskin, “… their minds trapped for hours to the exclusion of the world around them”. In total respect to Luskin and his research (as well as the research Luskin used in support of his findings), I don’t totally agree with this. Yes, an individual trapped in this ‘bubble’ of stimulating, mediated areas, an individual can be ‘trapped’ of which they are blind to what is happening around them, although I believe this is only when placed within this controlled environment. As demonstrated briefly in my findings from the experiment I conducted earlier in the week, being an avid media (social media mostly) user, I sometimes find myself ‘trapped’ and so does my brother, although evidently I was able to discuss the current events and information that was asked about on the program as I would have encountered at some parts of my day, just as my brother would have. These ‘trapped’ mediated spaces are only known as places to be ‘trapped’ if the individual allows themselves to be so.
Luskin further reports that “Media and social media are distributors and drivers of social change. We need increased understanding of the effects of media to help manage our future. Our community must grapple with our cultural or religious sensitivities. If we don’t shape our future, it will shape us”.
Taking a look at one of this weeks readings, I couldn’t help but lose myself in the findings of Faria Sana, Tina Weston and Melody Wiseheart in their report on Laptops as Classroom Learning for Both Users and Nearby Peers. Their findings, although quite controlled and possibly skewed due to the controlled environment of which they could conduct their research, was not surprising what so ever. It’s mostly common knowledge that distractions and ‘smart’ devices can often hinder learning, especially in a classroom environment, although it is quite a concern to what extent it actually affects individuals and the peers around them.
Having this research put into practice is a daunting fact, although as is reported in the FAQ section “as computer technology continues to advance, so will its influence on the education system and educational policy. Therefore, we must work with technology and adapt it to suit the goals of teaching rather than try to work against it”.
What are your thoughts on the attention span of today’s students? Leave me a comment below!
Do you agree with the research conducted Bernard J. Luskin? Why? (In complete respect of course).
I’m Sorry, What Did You Say: Have You Been Paying Attention? – very insightful post, got me thinking!
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