Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a single activity. The ability to focus one's mental or other efforts on an object is generally considered to be of prime importance to the achievement of goals. People usually have a longer attention span when they are doing something that they enjoy.
In an empirical study published in 1971, mothers of 232 pairs of twins were interviewed periodically about the similarities and differences in behavior displayed by their twins during infancy and early childhood. The results showed that each of the behavioral variables temper frequency, temper intensity, irritability, crying and demanding attention had a significant inverse relationship with the variable attention span. Consequently the twin with longer attention span – the one better able to remain absorbed in a particular activity without distraction – was the less temperamental twin.
In a study of 2,600 children ages 1 to 3 published in 2004, a team of researchers from University of Washington found that early exposure to television may have a negative impact on attention span. It has also been suggested that internet browsing can have a similar effect.