ISU Study Finds People Tune Out Zoom Calls About One-Third Of The Time

Ames, Iowa — Video conferences may be a permanent part of our work lives now, and an Iowa State University study delves into what people are actually looking at during Zoom and Webex meetings.

Joey George, an ISU professor of information systems and business analytics, says they used eye-tracking technology to find participants did pay attention to whoever was speaking during video conferences, but they looked off-screen frequently and for long periods.

Anyone who’s been on a video conference knows they can use the camera like a mirror, but shouldn’t do so during a call. Still, the study found women looked at themselves during video conferences -twice- as often as men.

One of George’s personal pet peeves is people eating during a video call, so one of the distractions they used in the study was people munching on snacks or moving the camera to change the background.

The technology for video calling was around long before the pandemic, but George believes Zoom and similar programs will most certainly continue to be popular well after COVID is a distant memory.

He says one goal of the study was to help people avoid distractions and to inform the future designers of video conferencing.



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