With all the distractions buzzing and beeping around them, multitasking has become a huge problem for tweens and teens online. We are raising a generation of kids that text, talk and walk all at the same time.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “40% of teens say they multitask most of the time while on the computer.” When you ask your child if they’re doing their homework, they probably respond, “Sure, Mom”. And true enough, they are doing their homework while on the computer, but at the same time they are also playing a game online, listening to their iPod, and going on Facebook for social reasons. We know educators are finding ways to use and integrate social networking sites with study groups and homework pages, but when a child is online and distracted from focusing on school-related functions, it becomes an issue.
“Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes,” said David E. Meyer, a cognitive scientist and director of the Brain, Cognition and Action Laboratory at the University of Michigan. René Marois, a neuroscientist and director of the Human Information Processing Laboratory at Vanderbilt University reports that “a core limitation is an inability to concentrate on two things at once.”
The reality is most tweens and teens can’t really multitask and do a good job on homework. The human brain is amazing but it does have its limitations. So when children are doing their homework, it is best that they turn off social sites, games, online movies, IM, music with lyrics and focus on homework.
As a parent, how do you make this happen? Parents need to monitor what their children are doing online. Parents need to parent online just as they do offline. Children need to be taught that multitasking doesn’t work and that when they are done with homework then it may be time for Facebook to connect with friends. Let’s teach children to get their homework done, do a good job and then play. Kind of like the offline world, don’t you think?