Media multitasking in adolescence
Author(s)Cain, Matthew S.; Finn, Amy S.; Leonard, Julia; Gabrieli, John D. E.
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Media use has been on the rise in adolescents overall, and in particular, the amount of media multitasking—multiple media consumed simultaneously, such as having a text message conversation while watching TV—has been increasing. In adults, heavy media multitasking has been linked with poorer performance on a number of laboratory measures of cognition, but no relationship has yet been established between media-multitasking behavior and real-world outcomes. Examining individual differences across a group of adolescents, we found that more frequent media multitasking in daily life was associated with poorer performance on statewide standardized achievement tests of math and English in the classroom, poorer performance on behavioral measures of executive function (working memory capacity) in the laboratory, and traits of greater impulsivity and lesser growth mindset. Greater media multitasking had a relatively circumscribed set of associations, and was not related to behavioral measures of cognitive processing speed, implicit learning, or manual dexterity, or to traits of grit and conscientiousness. Thus, individual differences in adolescent media multitasking were related to specific differences in executive function and in performance on real-world academic achievement measures: More media multitasking was associated with poorer executive function ability, worse academic achievement, and a reduced growth mindset.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Cain, Matthew S. et al. “Media Multitasking in Adolescence.” Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 23.6 (2016): 1932–1941.
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