Multitaskers Take Heed!

ImageStudents are not the only ones who think that by doing a number of things at once (listening to music, texting a friend, working on a paper, sipping on coffee) that they are modeling a high degree of efficiency and productivity.  It took the research of Stanford professor Clifford Nass (whose death was reported on by William Yardley from whose article of 11/7/13 in The New York Times we have gathered the information for this blog) to show us that “… the screen-saturated, multitasking world was not nurturing the ability to concentrate, analyze or feel empathy.”

For 25 years, Dr. Nass studied the changes in people has they absorbed ongoing technological changes. His 2009 paper Cognitive Control in Media Multitasking concluded: “We all bet that high multitaskers would be stars at something… But we were absolutely shocked.  We all lost our bets. It turns out that multitaskers are terrible at all aspects of multitasking.  They’re terrible at ignoring irrelevant information; they’re terrible at keeping information in their head nicely and neatly organized; and they’re terrible at switching from one task to another… One would think that if people were terrible at multitasking they would stop. However, when we talk with the multitaskers, they seem to think they are great at it and are totally unfazed and totally able to do more and more and more.”

A concern of Dr. Nass’ was “We worry that we may be creating people who are unable to think well and clearly.”

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