Social Media and Attention Span

By Katie Weinstein

People have spent increasingly more time on social media throughout the years which has led to shorter and shorter attention spans. This is because of click bait material and multitasking.

Social media is designed to grab people’s attention and get people to their next click so that people stay online for longer. Instead of publishing detailed, meaningful articles, people are now publishing more sensational, controversial pieces to get people to click. Because the material is very loud and polarizing, people have an urge to switch to new material, so new information is constantly competing for attention, reducing our attention span. This can be addictive in nature and teaches people to focus on engaging material for a short period of time and stay on social media for a long period of time. 

Additionally, social media is something that is commonly used while completing another task. When a person is multitasking, attention span is reduced. The effects are especially detrimental for younger people who are more susceptible to developing bad habits. The average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds and is now 8 seconds, which is 1 second shorter than the attention span of a goldfish! This is because it takes greater cognitive effort to switch between tasks than it does to maintain the same level of concentration on one task. Research has also shown that episodic memory can be significantly reduced when multitasking. 

Some ways to prevent declining attention spans are:

  • Implementing a “no phone at dinner” rule
  • Complete one task at a time 
  • Put your phone away while working 

If you or someone you know is struggling with attention span, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit


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