We all understand that multitasking is trying to do more than one thing at the same time. Scientists who are studying multitasking in adults, it seems a consensus that the brain loses ‘connections to important information’. We seem to continually feel that we need to focus on one particular event.
Back in 2008 David Meyer at the University of Michigan says that when the tasks get “complicated, no matter how good you have become at multitasking, you’re still going to suffer hits against your performance. You will be worse compared to if you were actually concentrating from start to finish on one task. Perhaps this is the case in the adult brain but the question hasn’t been answered with regard to the teenage brain that we work with in the schools.
In 2011 more research has been done about the teenage brain. Through this research we find that we are creating technology addicts. Technology gives us the ability to gain enjoyment. We also find that we are creating digital natives, our children who are so used to using technology. They have become so adept at it but we are still finding that there is a lack of efficiency. We would do so much better if we focused on one job at a time. The research finds that there are certain people who can multitask efficiently. This research continues to ask the question whether a person can be taught to multitask. Using certain video games and experiences allows us to learn how to digitally multitask. The thought is, yes we can.
Fast forward to 2014 and we see that teenagers are juggling more and more technology than ever before. These new researchers come to us with a unique perspective in that they are both high school students. They have found that for “adolescents who spend a lot of time switching between media devices and tasks” the multitasking does not necessarily lead to poor performance. The teenage brain has become more adept because practice does really make perfect.
The students recruited approximately 400 students, male and female, that ranged in age from 10-19 years. The participants completed the Stanford Multitasking Media Index and then completed task tests that compared multitasking to focusing on one task at a time. The results showed that people who often multitask scored higher on the multitasking index than those who didn’t. Not so surprisingly, found that most people performed best when focused on just one task. Yet, there was one group that did not do so. This group was made up of the “high media multitaskers”. So in the end, we find that digital natives work best in the highly distractive environments than when focused on one single task.
To what end? Perhaps we might rethink, teaching styles and curriculum.
To learn more listen to NPR http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95524385
Read Science Daily http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/10/141010155023.htm