Multitasking myths

A new study has found that multitasking during homework can slow things down but doesn't harm the performance of an academic task. "Students who send and receive instant messages while completing a reading assignment take longer to get through their texts but apparently still manage to understand what they’re reading," Education Week reports, citing the study by psychology Prof. Laura L. Bowman at Central Connecticut State University. For the research, students were divided into three groups – one that did no IM-ing while reading an assignment; one that answered IMs first, then did the reading; and a third multitasking group that chatted in IM while reading. "The third group took about 15 minutes longer than the other two groups to complete the reading – roughly 50% more time than the other two groups took. See also what "digital native" blogger Diana Kimball says about other recent research on the subject and what to do about "switch tasking," one of the types of multitasking discussed in The Myth of Multitasking, by Dave Crenshaw: "The key," she says to parents, "lies in laying out the facts and discussing strategies…. Writing a stellar book report might not be a cause compelling enough to warrant total focus, every young person will at some point find a pursuit worth paying attention to. Maybe it’s writing short stories; maybe writing music. Maybe it’s making art. But when that pursuit comes along, they’re going to want to know how to firewall their attention, focus their efforts, and – for once – stop switching." She says limiting teens' Net access doesn't work.

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