Short videos might be making your attention span shorter

My laziness is really profound. I’m really interested in where it comes from – it almost feels chemical. And we’ve all got ADD now, short attention span and all that. – Hugh Grant

Have you noticed that your attention span is becoming shorter? Is it harder to focus on something for a long while? If so, it’s not just you, even the rich and famous are finding things harder. People from all over the world are becoming more concerned over their difficulties paying attention to something longer than a few minutes or even seconds.

What might be the problem? One potential explanation is the rising trend of increasingly short videos. TikTok videos last for only a few seconds, and this is the number one platform today. We are being taught three things in particular.

First, we find it harder to get hooked on something for a long time. We get used to constant switches from place to place, activity to activity, topic to topic. Videos and other short-form social media content encourage people to keep browsing, to keep scrolling, to watch the next best thing, to find the next interesting bit.

The second thing is that short content can affect our brains. It encourages to seek short-term gratification, what is sometimes talked about as seeking dopamine. Dopamine is a neurochemical, a substance in our brain, that is linked to the feeling of reward. By rushing from one thing to the next, we are always trying to get the next “hit” of dopamine.

The third thing is that we tend to get bored easily. We have seen it all. We have experienced too much. We want something weirder, sexier, more violent. Otherwise, it’s hard to stay engaged.

The problems with this are clear. A short attention span is likely to impact our work and our leisure, such as the ability to read or even watch movies. But what can you do about that?

Slow down. Allow yourself time to explore longer forms of entertainment and give them the time to develop. Take time away from social media, uninstall TikTok if you have to. Limit the time you spend on social media and ensure that you also do other things. Read a book; find a topic that interests you or a story that can reel you in. Give yourself a chance to work on things that require a longer attention span to counter the negative effects of social media.