Kids Don't Multitask As Well As They'd Like You To Think

from the ooh,-look,-something-shiny... dept

Over the past few years, there have been plenty of stories about the rise of multitasking, especially among the younger generation. The general consensus is that having grown up with multitasking, they're just better at it. However, in a NY Times article that suggests people really don't handle multitasking very well, the author points to research suggesting that while kids may multitask more often, it doesn't mean they're very good at it. If anything, it just tends to show that they're not very good at ignoring distractions. Of course, as with many of these discussions the definition of multitasking can be quite tricky. We were just talking about the evolutionary benefits of continuous partial attention, that allowed a brain to work on more challenging problems while it was overtly working on less interesting issues. But is that really multitasking? At the same time, some people blame multitasking for not being able to keep the attention of people who they want to listen to them -- but again, that's a different issue. Perhaps part of the problem is that multitasking has multiple definitions to multiple people, and that makes it that much more difficult to recognize when it's a problem and when it's beneficial.
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  1. identicon
    Martin Bilski, 27 Mar 2007 @ 2:17am

    I don't think the original post was meant to be a value judgement.

    Tolerance and humility are all good qualities, but still we should be able to distinguish between what's *practical* and what's impractical. After all, those kids do have their own values that may be different from our own, their own goals we fail to understand, but -- like us -- they want to be happy, able to realize their goals and to succeed at what they deem is important.

    Is multitasking helping them? Is it making them more effective at what they want to do? Are they more able to rest among changing circumstances of the more and more complex world today *or* are they becoming more and more confused? They have their goals - they want to succeed - they need focus and patience. Focus and patience it's not something that just comes with age; my experience at least is that it's something that has to be learned. (Perhaps I'm stupid or something :)

    After having learned that, one can stay focused among chaos and confusion and perhaps chaos and confusion *are* the ways to learn it. But it's also possible that you have to learn to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.

    Just a few chaotic thoughts... ;)

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