You have no choice: Thou shalt multitask!

By Tamar Hellinga

By Tamar Hellinga

[mks_dropcap style=”letter” size=”48″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]I[/mks_dropcap]n our current day and age a majority of people is constantly connected to media in one way or another. Adolescents are seen as the key figures regarding media use thanks to their average of nine hours spent with media. This age group also seems to be great at multitasking between different media as a result of their exposure to many media.

As millennials and communication science students, we have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon in having media accounts for every platform. It starts with an innocent Facebook account to be able to connect with peers and stay up to date with updates from friends, events and interesting places. But it doesn’t end there: Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and even traditional media like television are constantly grabbing our attention.

Multitasking Explained

Within the discipline of Youth and Media Entertainment, three different ways of erotik film izle media multitasking are defined. The first of these is media-media multitasking, in which we use different media at the same time. Think of using your phone for social media and watching Netflix at the same time. The second, academic-media multitasking, focuses on the use of media during studying and other academic-related activities. This could be in the form of listening music whilst studying for an exam or using your phone whilst attending a lecture. The third one targets media use in social situations and is called social-media multitasking.

we put our brains in a constant state of stress, by perpetually scanning our environment

The fact that media multitasking is a main theme among teens and adolescents regarding their media use meets mainly negative feedback from news associations. It is often said that real-life interaction should be more important than online communication. Journalists, parents and critics of media are commonly concerned about adolescents’ academic results and attention abilities. News organizations state that by multitasking we put our brains in a constant state of stress, by perpetually scanning our environment. Besides, multitasking seems to damage our memory and attention skills.

But what do we actually know?

Whilst news reports and statements across different media are pessimistic with their voice of doom, research is a little more nuanced in their conclusions. Although no direct causal relations could be identified, a literature review and a longitudinal study both found several effects regarding media multitasking. Although these are mostly negative effects of our media multitasking activities, they are less dramatically presented than in the news.

Although these are mostly negative effects of our media multitasking activities, they are less dramatically presented than in the news.

According to both studies, media multitasking has negative effects on socioemotional functioning. However, the longitudinal study found this effect to apply to boys in experiencing less prosocial behaviour and for girls in experiencing more emotional problems. Academically, our results are influenced negatively on the short term, but show no effects on the long term. Perhaps using Twitter during one lecture lessens your knowledge on that lecture, but in the end we can even this out across time.

When we look at attention problems it seems that these do exist in relation to media multitasking. But once again, there is a difference between boys and girls with girls indicating more attention problems because of media multitasking than boys. This could, however, lie in perception of attention problems instead of actual raw data indicating attention loss.

Are we doomed?

Contrary to what this article may lean towards, we are not doomed in the world of media multitasking. Yes, there may be negative effects, but thankfully these are relative and must be put into their context for the right conclusion. Besides that, there are many ways to make ourselves more into mono-tasking. Start off by closing all the tabs in your browser you’re not currently using – guilty – and try one of those apps (Focus, Forest, Offtime) that temporarily mutes notifications so you can focus. Or dare yourself by trying to watch this entire video without any media multitasking.

Inspired by a lecture by S.R. Sumter for ‘Topic Always Connected: Key insights in youth, media and technology’ on Wednesday November 16.

Cover: Pixabay

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