Why Media Multitasking Is Bad for Kids

To Live a Life Beyond the Screen:
Why Media Multitasking is Bad for Kids

A management student listens to a lecture, fingers intermittently punching keys in his laptop, not to take down notes for tomorrow’s exam, but to check Twitter for the day’s trending topics. A boy and a girl lie comfortably on a sofa watching American Idol with their heads bent, not towards each other, but towards their iPhone screens. Three friends meet up in the library for a study session, silently turning the pages of their AP Calculus textbooks, not to study integrals, but just to have something to do while waiting for pings and beeps from their smart phones. A family of four hurriedly eats their dinner, not to catch the primetime soap and watch it together, but to continue fiddling with their gadgets and live their own busy lives. These people are just a few of the countless victims of media multitasking, the act of engaging in a single or multiple media-related activities in conjunction with another task. Quite expectedly, this culture of juggling several activities along with media use at once has become so deep-rooted particularly in the present generation that we barely give it much thought. But when multitasking kids extend their screen time to schoolwork and social life, the result can be a culture that is neither positive nor satisfying to young people.

The prevalence of media multitasking among today’s kids irrefutably poses a dilemma in both their academic pursuits and social relations. First, it is nonsensical to deny that young learners who media multitask while accomplishing schoolwork fall short in sustaining their focus on tasks academic in nature. The tidal wave of technological advancement serves as an agent of distraction to today’s kids. Second, what has been established by mountains of researches during the past years is that learning associated with media-related tasks causes severe consequences to one’s cognitive development, that is, the mental growth in...