Multitasking may be harmful, especially to younger kids

As more kids mix iPods, TV and homework, researchers worry that a basic capacity for in-depth learning may be dripping away, one download at a time.
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p>Got Homework? Turn on the laptop, plug in the iPod and crank up MTV. Teens are increasingly likely to multitask while studying, but experts worry that the long-term effects will have a negative impact on brain development and productivity, reports the Washington Post.

The verdict is still out on just why flitting from task to task is harmful to teen development, as no long-term research has been done on teens who multitask.

"Introducing multitasking in younger kids in my opinion can be detrimental. One of the biggest problems about multitasking is that it's almost impossible to gain a depth of knowledge of any of the tasks you do while you're multitasking. And if it becomes normal to do, you'll likely be satisfied with very surface-level investigation and knowledge," said Jordan Grafman, chief of cognitive neuroscience at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The 'Net Generation" has immediate access to information, and many teens feel quite they can get more done while multitasking.

"I honestly feel like I'm able to accomplish more during an hour if I multitask," said Christine Stoddard, 18, a senior at Yorktown High School in Arlington County, Va. "If it's something like English or history that comes easily to me, then I can easily divide my attention. It's the way I've always been."

Regardless of whether multitasking is good or bad, it's here to stay. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report, when kids are "studying," they're also doing something else 65 percent of the time. The foundation also found that girls were more likely to media multitask than boys.

"Kids who grow up under conditions where they have to multitask a lot may be developing styles of coping that would allow them to perform better in future environments where required to do a lot, but that doesn't mean their performance in the workplace would be better than if they were doing one thing at a time," said David Meyer, director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan.
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