Americans are increasingly shifting their digital news consumption to tablets and smartphones. In 2015, 99 of 110 major news websites in the United States had more tablet and smartphone visitors than desktop visitors.
Four researchers conducted three types of studies—two lab-based and one eye-tracking—to test whether tablets and smartphones attenuate attention to news content compared to their desktop counterparts. The work was done by Johanna Dunaway of Texas A&M University, Kathleen Searles at Louisiana State University, Mingxiao Sui of Ferrum College and Newly Paul of Appalachian State University
Results from the first study showed that tablet and smartphone users spend signiﬁcantly less time reading news content relative to computer users. Tablet and smartphone users also spend signiﬁcantly less time ﬁxating on news links and are less likely to notice news links relative to computer users.
In the second study, the researchers examined how only the use of tablets influences attention to news. The researchers found no signiﬁcant diﬀerences in time spent ﬁxated on the news story on tablets versus computers. But tablet users are less likely to look at news link and they spend less time looking at news links relative to computer users.
The third study tracked the eyeballs of the users to examine the span of attention to news content. The authors found that tablet and smartphone users spend signiﬁcantly less time on news sites on a per-visitor basis, relative to computer users.
The multi-part study suggests that exposure to digital news through mobile devices does not equate with attention, although these devices offer expanded opportunities for exposure to digital news. Attention is curbed on mobile devices. Even as mobile access proliferates, for the mobile dependent, the depth of attention to news is shrinking.
To read the full text of the study: https://bit.ly/2OSlEb2
Dunaway, J., Searles, K., Sui, M., & Paul, N. (2018). News Attention in a Mobile Era. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 23(2), 107-124.