A recent study has shown that multitasking teens who juggle multiple media devices just may be doing better on juggling tasks and retaining focus than was previously thought. Study findings were presented at a meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics in San Diego.
High school students conducted a study of their peers performance on tasks when they move between laptops, smartphones, and other devices. Those who used the devices often did just as well as those who were less media-obsessed. The findings suggest that the popular perception that teens who switch between multiple devices are less focused may not be true.
400 students of both sexes were observed, between the ages of 10 and 19. Questions they were asked included describing their daily media habits. They were then tested on their ability to focus on a single task and to switch between tasks. The tests were performed with and without distractions.
An average of three hours a day was typical of those who scored high on the “media multitasking index”. These multitasking students also completed an average of 3.5 hours a day of homework. More than 50 percent of their time was spent juggling multiple tasks. Students who were low on the same index multitasked .08 percent of the time, and averaged 20 minutes a day of multitasking. They spent 2.5 hours daily on homework.
The ability to filter distractions varied between the two groups. Those on the high end of the scale could filter out distractions but were less adept at focusing on single tasks. For those on the low end of the scale the opposite was true. Those students were more adept at focusing on single tasks, but less able to filter out distractions.