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Is media multitasking making teens stupid?

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Washington: In this digitally-ruled world, checking social media while watching TV or online shopping while on the phone has become a norm. According to a recent study, this type of media multitasking can be hindering your kid’s performance at school.

The study found that the more time teenagers spend splitting their attention between various devices such as their phones, video games or TV, the lower their test scores in math and English tend to be.

More time spent multitasking between different types of media is also associated with greater impulsivity and a poorer working memory in adolescents, said Amy S. Finn of the University of Toronto.

According to Finn, the term “media multitasking” describes the act of using multiple media simultaneously, such as having the television on in the background while texting on a smartphone. While it has been on the rise over the past two decades, especially among adolescents, its influence on cognition, performance at school and personality has not been assessed before.

To do so, a Media Use Questionnaire was administered to 73 eighth grade students living in the greater Boston area.

Finn summarized that they found a link between greater media multitasking and worse academic outcomes in adolescents. This relationship may be due to decreased executive functions and increased impulsiveness, both previously associated with both greater media multitasking and worse academic outcomes.

Improving scholastic performance isn’t just a simple matter of regulating the amount of time that teenagers spend watching television, playing video games or using their phones. “The direction of causality is difficult to establish. For example, media multitasking may be a consequence of underlying cognitive differences and not vice versa,” noted Finn.

The study appears in Springer’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. ANI)

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