Distracted Teens Slow to Finish Tasks

Students tend to think they’re good at doing multiple things at the same time.  Truth be told, some of us adults are also deluded into thinking we are great at multitasking as well!  But a study from the National Academy of Sciences showed that multitaskers understand less of what they’re doing, and the next day they aren’t able to remember what they learned while multitasking. The article by Commonsense Media discussing this research helps parents determine if their children are being negatively affected by multitasking, and provides tips for managing multitasking among kids of all ages. Commonsense Media’s article suggests that parents:

  • Encourage your kids to read more. Reading helps strengthen the brain’s ability to focus. The more people read, the better they become at reflection and analysis.
  • Start good habits early. Establish boundaries when your kids are young. No TV, Facebook, YouTube, IM, texting or other digital distractions during homework.
  • Model what you preach. This means no checking your phone while asking your kids how their days were.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. Try to help your kids do one thing at a time. Granted, this is easier with younger kids. Consider putting the TV and computer in separate rooms. For older kids, make sure social networks and chatting happen after homework is completed — or at timed intervals.
  • Pay attention and connect the dots. If you see your kids’ grades slipping, make the connection between listening to a favorite band and doing algebra homework. If your children begin handing in work late or if they are staying up too late to complete homework, consider turning off the Internet, the cell phone, and the TV, and see if the situation reverses itself. The grades will tell if multitasking is taking its toll.