Media Multitasking – A Distraction?

by Corey May, CEO The Communication Journal, M.S., ABA Paralegal

Does multitasking increase your ability to focus or does it distract you from the mission of focus?

Summarizing a study from Stanford University by Eyal Ophir, Clifford Nass and Anthony D. Wagner the answer is “no” when it comes to multi media and focus.  The studied proved that people who multitask with media apparatuses do so because they lack attention to focus.  We all know people who text, dial, email while they are performing other functions.

How many people do you know that boast “I’m a multitasker” or how many employers require their employees to multitask as a qualification for employment?  Lots is the answer, but do they really understand what the brain is programmed to do?

The study was titled Cognitive Control in Media Multitaskers.

The study began by analyzing people’s multitasking ability and then categorized them into high, medium and low with their ability to perform with 12 different media devices.  The study showed that the heavy media multitaskers are more susceptible to interference from irrelevant environmental stimuli and from irrelevant representations of memory.  Multitaskers performed worse on all tests while considering themselves to be multitasking.

This means that your cell phone, iPhone, blackberry and all of the Tweets and dings are a distraction at certain times where cognitive attention is important to function and efficiency.

Knowing this you should curtail your multitasking and focus.  That doesn’t mean you cannot play music or turn on the TV, it means that when a task requires your 100% efficiency you should terminate multitasking and focus!