Media Multitasking

Many people these days – youngsters in particular – believe in their ability to perform more than one task at the same time, or to ‘multitask’. In this post we listen to what the research has to say about ‘media multitasking’. Before you listen, discuss the foillowing questions with a friend:

  • Are you good at multitasking?
  • Do you multitask when using electronic devices? Which ones?
  • Can multitasking make you smarter?

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  1. Read through the questions and try to predict answers.
  2. Listen and fill gaps in the text with suitable words or phrases.
  3. Click (or touch) 'Check your answers'.
  • Feedback colours: Correct - Incorrect - Not answered
  • After submitting answers a link to an answer key will appear at the bottom of the page. Clicking highlighted words in this key will reveal the location of the answer in the tapescript.
  • This activity includes 10 questions.

OK I understand

Answer the questions as you listen.
Write ONE OR TWO WORDS for each answer.

Facts about media multitasking

  • Many US adults use another device while watching TV.
  • Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does not improve memory and .

What is media multitasking?

  • Using more than one device at the same time, for example using your when watching TV.
  • Playing a and at the same time sending texts to friends or listening to music.

What do researchers say about media multitasking?

  • Heavy media multitaskers have poorer attention than light media multitaskers.
  • In memory tests, heavy media multitaskers are also weaker than light media multitaskers.
  • Heavy media multitaskers and light media multitaskers have differently brains.
  • Researchers remain about the causes of heavy media multitasking.

A benefit of heavy media multitasking

Light media multitaskers may not notice helpful information unrelated to their main task. Heavy media multitaskers are more likely to notice a forecast, for example.

Should we avoid it?

Yes and no.

  • Yes. When you do two things at the same time the brain experiences an and only allows tasks to be performed one after the other.
  • No. More research is needed before we start about media multitasking and its potentially negative effects.

Answer the questions as you listen.
Write ONE OR TWO WORDS for each answer.

Facts about media multitasking

  • Many US adults use another device while watching TV.
  • Contrary to popular belief, multitasking does not improve memory and attention (1).

What is media multitasking?

  • Using more than one device at the same time, for example using your smartphone (2) when watching TV.
  • Playing a video game (3) and at the same time sending texts to friends or listening to music.

What do researchers say about media multitasking?

  • Heavy media multitaskers have poorer sustained (4) attention than light media multitaskers.
  • In working (5) memory tests, heavy media multitaskers are also weaker than light media multitaskers.
  • Heavy media multitaskers and light media multitaskers have differently structured (6) brains.
  • Researchers remain uncertain (7) about the causes of heavy media multitasking.

A benefit of heavy media multitasking

Light media multitaskers may not notice helpful information unrelated to their main task. Heavy media multitaskers are more likely to notice a breaking news (8) forecast, for example.

Should we avoid it?

Yes and no.

  • Yes. When you do two things at the same time the brain experiences an attentional bottleneck (9) and only allows tasks to be performed one after the other.
  • No. More research is needed before we start panicking (10) about media multitasking and its potentially negative effects.

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