According to the study, the stress of today's life has affected people's ability to focus on the task in hand.
Also declining attention spans are causing household accidents such as pans being left to boil over on the hob, baths allowed to overflow, and freezer doors left open, the survey suggests.
According to the study by Lloyds TSB insurance, a quarter of people polled said they regularly forget the names of close friends or relatives, and seven per cent even admitted to momentarily forgetting their own birthdays.
It showed that the average attention span had fallen to just 5 minutes, down from 12 minutes 10 years ago.
But the over-50s are able to concentrate for longer periods than young people, suggesting that busy lifestyles and intrusive modern technology rather than old age are to blame for our mental decline.
"More than ever, research is highlighting a trend in reduced attention and concentration spans, and as our experiment suggests, the younger generation appear to be the worst afflicted," the Telegraph quoted sociologist David Moxon, who led the survey of 1,000 people, as saying.
"Lack of attention has a serious impact on task performance and increases the risk of accidents," he added.