How Well Do You Pay Attention?

In this modern day and age, there are more thing which divert ones attention. It’s not just your classic mobile, laptop and social media but things such as people talking in the library and eavesdropping into their juicy conversation about how Sarah broke up with Matt or eating lunch at a café and accidentally zoning out on your friend to start people watching. Life is so busy these days so as a result, people are used to changing their focus constantly to keep up.

As a test, I made my friend complete this Buzzfeed video task and she was able to count all 14 red cards but only noticed one background difference. I on the other hand couldn’t keep up. Once I saw the plant in the background disappear I lost focus and forgot how many red cards I already counted and tried to simultaneously watch both the cards and the background and couldn’t focus on just one. Does this mean that I am unable to multi-task? This exercise has taught me that even when you think you are paying full attention to something, you can still miss a lot of details.

This made me wonder about university lectures and how valuable people really deem them to be. I personally do not like to attend lectures as I prefer to be able to watch them online, stop/start/repeat them as I please. When I do attend lectures, I definitely do switch off too many times and often question why I attended when I know I’m not going to give it 100%. I honestly do try to listen but sometimes the lecturer has a monotone voice, my phone gets a notification, my friend says something funny or there is a hottie 3 rows down. My last lecture that I attended, I took time to look around and see what others are doing. I can see that the entire back row are engaged in a group computer game, the person next to me is endlessly scrolling on their phone and the girls a couple of rows away are having a chat. Does anyone pay attention to the lecturer!? It appears that mobiles and laptops do indeed hinder learning in a university lecture environment as theorised by Sana et. al. (2014) as they offer more opportunity for distraction through things such as the internet and social media but it’s evidently not the sole distractor. I will still continue to open my laptop at uni but I am definitely now more aware and conscious of how often I get distracted.


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