Students on Screens: Multitasking and Device Use Among Teens
Teens and 20-somethings are known for boasting about their multitasking abilities. “Sure, I can watch TV while texting my friends and shopping on my laptop and doing my homework!” And while it’s true that they do all of these things at the same time, it may not be true that they’re that good at it.
The more tasks and screens to check on, the less actually gets done. Our attention spans shorten, our focus diminishes, and our productivity suffers. And we just keep adding screens, increasing our enjoyment but not our efficiency.
Over the course of a year, people aged 8 to 18 spend twice the time on screens as they do at school. Sure, some of this screen time is homework-related — but when combined, much more could be attributed to shopping, chatting, social networking, TV, and other recreational entertainment. In fact, while watching TV, eight in ten college students are using a second screen.
Young adults may attest to loving the multi-screen lifestyle, but it has some teachers concerned. Could the Internet be the root of our multitasking woes? Eighty-seven percent of AP and National Writing Project high school teachers (that’s nearly 9 in 10!) believe the Internet and digital search are decreasing attention spans and increasing student distractibility. About 3 in 4 teachers feel the Internet is training students to believe that research results should be swift — and they may not wait around for the best results.
So what do you think? Is our multitasking screen-savvy lifestyle a boon or a bane?