Features of the Attention Span in Adult Internet Users

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The article generally considers the problem of changes in the functioning of cognitive processes in the context of digitalization. Systematization of the current studies on attention reveals that the vast majority of them are devoted to media multitasking, the results of which are rather contradictory and relate mainly to adolescents and young men. The academic community also analyzes the impact of digital technologies on the attention of students of different age groups, the effect of which is assessed rather as negative. The present study tests the hypothesis of possible changes in the implementation of this cognitive function in adult Internet users. Empirical testing was carried out through a comparative analysis of the attention span in adults who prefer different information coding systems: traditional (“paper”) or digital. The study sample included people aged 37-60 who received higher education in the pre-digital era and are currently engaged in intellectual work; they were divided into two groups: adult readers and adult Internet users (n = 50 each). To clarify the differences in the attention span in adult respondents with different practices of accessing information carriers, a group of students, active young Internet users (n = 50), was also involved. The attention span parameters were assessed using Bourdon’s dot cancellation test. The results of the study statistically reliably show that the adult readers ( p ≤ 0.01) have a higher ability to concentrate attention than active Internet users (both young and adults), keeping it within the normative boundaries that were inherent in people of the pre-digital era.

About the authors

Elena I. Medvedskaya

Brest State University named after A.S. Pushkin

Author for correspondence.
Email: EMedvedskaja@mail.ru
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2033-510X

PhD in Psychology, is Professor of the Department of Social Work

21 Bulvar Kosmonavtov, Brest, 224016, Republic of Belarus


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