Will Attention Spans Continue to Shrink? Anticipating the Future of Media Consumption

The rise of digital media, combined with the constant barrage of notifications from various apps, has spurred an ongoing debate: are our attention spans dwindling? It’s an important question, especially for those in the motion graphics field, where capturing and maintaining audience engagement is important.

Human evolution has groomed us to be constantly alert, seeking out new and novel experiences. This trait was crucial for our ancestors’ survival, but in today’s information-soaked era, it’s led to an appetite for rapid content consumption. A 2015 Microsoft study claimed that the average human attention span had shrunk from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2013. That’s less than a goldfish! But is this shift as dire as it sounds?

It’s essential to differentiate between ‘attention span’ and ‘selective attention’. While we may browse through content at lightning speed, when something truly captivates us – be it an intriguing Instagram reel or a compelling infographic animation – our attention remains engaged. In essence, it’s not that our ability to focus has declined; instead, our selective attention has become more refined. We’ve become experts at filtering out irrelevant content and zoning in on what matters to us.

For motion designers, this is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, there’s a shrinking window to catch a viewer’s eye, but once hooked, the potential for deep engagement is significant. As technology evolves, so too will the ways in which we consume media. Augmented reality, virtual reality, and other immersive technologies beckon a future where media consumption is more experiential, allowing for richer, more immersive storytelling.

So, what does this mean for the motion graphics world? It underscores the importance of originality, relatability, and brevity. Motion graphics need to quickly resonate with audiences, delivering messages that are both impactful and concise. But it also reminds us that once we’ve captured that elusive attention, the possibilities for engagement are vast.

Case in point: in working with clients, we sometimes find script sections that focus on one idea for too long. It’s better to move the narrative along at a consistent pace. Being concise and captivating keeps the audience engaged. 

As we navigate this ever-evolving landscape, let’s not fear the shrinking attention span. Instead, let’s rise to the challenge, harnessing our creativity to craft content that not only captures attention but also captivates the imagination.