Attention Spans Are Increasing for Students While Decreasing For Others

The news is full of stories and research about shrinking attention spans. Social media, excess screen time, and inability to cope with boredom are just a few of the culprits people point to. But the team at Brainscape made a fascinating discovery that they documented with a series of infographics: people who use their apps have managed to increase their attention spans.

Brainscape is a study app, and they based their results on the length of study sessions users engaged in year by year. They found that over the course of ten years, the length of study sessions increased by 53%. In one graphic we can see the team’s comparison of study session/attention length next to average attention spans and the difference is significant. This looks like a 5-minute increase in attention span, which may not sound like a lot, but many of their users have multiple study sessions in a day. The team’s calculations show that the average user is devoting an hour and 40 minutes studying a week. That’s 80 hours a year, enough to master multiple skills.

A further study showed that women made more improvements than male users as of 2024. They increased their sessions to 15.1 minutes compared to male users’ 13.7 minutes. Brainscape’s philosophy is founded on the idea that attention spans are like a muscle. They can be built up and strengthened with practice. Looking at their data, it seems that their philosophy is on target, and their methods are working.

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