In the interest of full disclosure I must confess that I am watching TV as I write this blog...or to be more specific the television is on and distracting me from my writing. My wife is surfing the internet and sharing conversation with me which is also distracting me from my writing. What should take me 10-15 minutes is now taking over an hour. Multitasking allows me to do several things at once but ultimately none of them very well. I am not giving my wife, the television show, or my writing my complete focus. Instead of increasing my efficiency and productivity my multitasking is actually decreasing the quality of all my activities.
Cognitive research supports that Multitasking hurts learning and affects memory. Multitasking while driving can even be deadly. Brains aren't built to multitask and the myth that students who simultaneously text message, talk on the phone, listen to music, watch TV, surf the internet, all while working on their homework somehow have their brains wired differently is false. The youth may have more practice using their thumbs but their brains are not any better equipped than those of their elders to handle multitasking.
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I teach college students and work with professional marketers. Text messaging on cell phones, emailing on PDA's and iPhones, surfing the internet, while simultaneously attending meetings are common with this crowd. In fact, students are so addicted to text messaging that they cannot put their phones down and stop texting even when asked or while spending time with their friends. In case you think this is unique to students or marketers, sit at a table at any professional conference or corporate meeting and see how many people turn their PC's, PDA's and Cells off and give 100% attention to the speaker or topic at hand.
Marketers and educators are continuing to address these multitasking media use trends by creating more multitasking solutions and communications. The need for instant and constant communication is an addiction and the excuse that multitasking somehow makes us more efficient or productive is false. In the end, giving 100% focus to our friends, family, employers or task at hand is the only solution. I had to pause the television just now to proofread this but if there are too many errors I will blame it on multitasking since my wife is still making conversation. I will sign-off now so I can focus on our conversation.
Are we willing to settle for less by not giving our full attention to others and not expecting their full attention in return? Will there be some backlash when the quality of our learning, work, conversations, and relationship continues to decline?
I look 4WARD to your feedback.