It seems that there have been any number of news articles recently trying to stir up lots of worries over technologies kids use today -- such as MySpace, instant messaging/SMS text messaging and other such tools. For the most part, these articles often seem overblown, in the same way that people fretted about what rock music was doing to kids a few decades ago. While there is some of that in this week's Time cover story, the article does raise a few interesting questions about the long term effects of constant multitasking. It's been repeated so many times by now, that many simply take it as a fact that today's kids are able to multitask constantly -- watching TV while they IM, surf the web, upload photos and maybe (if there's time) do a bit of their homework. While it may be true that many do this, it doesn't necessarily mean that they're really better at multitasking. They've just gotten used to it. Recent studies suggest that while they may not get overwhelmed like their elders, there are downsides. They don't do a much better job of processing information and may have a lot more trouble processing complex information. Obviously, it would be good if there were a lot more research to back these findings up (and, no doubt, plenty of it is on the way). So far, though, while being better at multi-tasking certainly is likely to have some advantages, the research suggests it comes with a very real cost.
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