Dear Commons Community,
An Education Week article looks at young people and their ability to control multitasking activities. For a generation of children immersed in technology, emerging research suggests that while the temptation to multitask may be pervasive, the ability to control it could be the real bellwether of academic success. The article cites:
“Those under 18 multitask more often and more extensively than previous generations, says Larry D. Rosen, the author of the 2012 book iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold on Us. On average, he found, 13- to 18-year-olds use more than six types of media simultaneously during out-of-school time.
The pervasiveness of technology and social media, coupled with a fear of missing out on something important, has led students to pay “continuous partial attention” to everything, but has resulted in their having difficulty concentrating deeply on anything, according to Mr. Rosen and other researchers who took part in the Web-Connected Minds Conference, held near Washington this month.
They highlighted emerging research on the way the brain copes with doing too much. Simply put, the brain can’t be in two places at once.
Not only can people not process two tasks simultaneously, but it also takes longer to multitask than it would to do the individual tasks one after the other, according to Steven G. Yantis, the chairman of the psychological and brain sciences department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
It’s fine to walk and chew gum at the same time, but when a person tries to do two things at the same time that each require a choice, there’s a brief “bottleneck” in the prefrontal cortex—the decisionmaking part of the brain—that delays the second task, he said.”
The full article requires a subscription or registration and is available at: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/05/16/31multitasking_ep.h31.html