Why Multitasking Is A Myth AND Bad For Our Children

Source: ASIDE 2017

Today's students live in media-dominated bubbles. They stream Netflix, check Snapchat, Facetime friends, and scroll Instagram  simultaneously on laptops, iPads, and phones — all while purporting to do their evening homework. Parents tell us that homework now takes five or six hours a night for their children. But candidly, most of our parent conferences end up being conversations about how to wrestle devices away from their kids. Families acknowledge that more often than not, their sons and daughters are in bedrooms with doors closed and with devices on full blast. It's a mystery how much "work" is actually being done.

Source: NBC News

That's because today's media-saturated world demands multitasking to parse the competing inputs. "Multitasking" seems like a badge of honor for modern professionals and learners. But for most children and adults, multitasking is a myth that deserves to be disproved. Multitasking by its definition relies on interruption. It (wrongfully) claims disruption as a blessing. Countless scientific studies have refuted this premise. Instead, every endeavor benefits more from full attention, not fractured thought. Every test, quiz, or homework assignment benefits more from dedicated study, not digital disturbance.



A helpful video from NBC News tries to make sense of this contemporary obsession with multitasking. The scientists quoted in the clip argue that monotasking is in fact more vital for brain development. They note that interruptions of fewer than three seconds can double the rate of errors on simple tasks. Multitasking can lead to a difficulty in ignoring irrelevant information and in memorizing facts, both of which are crucial for young learners.

Source: ASIDE 2017

Here are some other articles that provide terrific ideas for teachers and parents about how to negotiate the multitasking impulse in our children: