Multitasking good vs. brain overload

I found this great article on commonsensemedia.org about why multitasking matters. This may not apply so much right now because most of us are in the full swing of schedules, school, homework, and balancing life and extracurricular activities. But as a future educator, I found this article interesting. It pointed out signs that multitasking is overworking and stressing students.

It says that multitasking may be  problem when:

  1. They are distracted from school work to the point where they can read the material then are not able to remember what they just read. Their retention for information is slim.
  2. Their grades drop. Homework is not finished on time, they perform at a lower level, etc.
  3. They are disorganized (or more disorganized for some) and slow to get things done.
  4. Social costs on a family relationship. Sometimes balancing the iphone, ipod, and friends can become hectic and setting time aside for family and conversation can be very important.
  5. Taking a longer time than usual to complete a task. When students have too much on their plate, their brain can be on overload and they just don’t absorb the information they need to perform tasks in a timely manner.

So as adults/parents/teachers (future teachers) we need to encourage kids to:

  1. Read more—get away from technology for a brief moment and focus on one task.
  2. Start good habits early—establish boundaries on tv, social media, or distractions during times when they are to be focusing on homework or family time.

 

As adults in their lives we also need to walk the walk if we are going to talk the talk. That means that when we get a text during dinner, we can’t check our phone either. We need to pay attention to signs that things are changing and connect the dots to help them unclutter their lives and focus on what is important. 

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8 thoughts on “Multitasking good vs. brain overload

  1. Interesting article. Multitasking has never made sense to me. It is not physically possible to do so many things AND do them all correctly! I also liked the second point you made: do not be a hypocrite. As adults, we must show younger generations what we expect of them.

  2. Thank you for this! I used to think I was awesome, multitasking all the time, but then I started reading up on it, and realized that it’s actually not as useful as I thought! Multitasking stretches our attention span, and decreases our ability to do every task to the best of our abilities. It’s no different for students. Thanks so much for sharing this. I think it’s important that this message is spread, because too many people are stressing themselves out trying to do too many things.

  3. I love your point about making sure that we pay more attention to our children and/or students and aid them in decreasing the clutter in their lives. I also like your point about teaching good habits early. Recently, I was asked how I would teach students organization. Um, teach organization? Being an extremely organized person, I found this an odd question because I’d forgotten that I, too, once needed to be taught organizational skills. Teaching organizational skills can be a great step towards helping decrease clutter and its a good habit to get into. Thanks for such the thought provoking post!!

  4. Interesting article. I find it kind of funny that as of right now, I see several points that could relate to me. I am constantly multitasking at home and work. But since it’s that time of the semester where multiply papers are due, I doubt that I can do anything about it right now. However, you do bring up some very good points and I’ll have to keep them in mind for next semester.

  5. For younger children, I can see the whole point of “getting away from technology” to help teach concentration, but people are a bit quick to demonize tech and blame it for our children’s lack of focus or obesity problem. Perhaps it’s the parenting? But, you did mention that the parents should be walking the walk as well as talking the talk – so kudos!

    For when we’re older, not multitasking becomes next to impossible. Given homework for anywhere between 4-7 different classes at a time, with half of it being online, technology is pretty impossible to avoid.

  6. Ha! I am also constantly multi-tasking but find that I enjoy life and work so much more when I focus on one thing at a time and really give it my attention. Nancie Atwell has a great book called The Reading Zone which argues, in part, that our students need to have that experience of being totally involved in one story–getting into the “zone” as they read.

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