A lot of kids today have no problems juggling two or three things at the same time. They’re listening to music while chatting with friends online. They’re doing their homework on their laptops while also checking their Facebook accounts. This propensity for multitasking may seem like a good thing, but a study published in the journal Developmental Psychology says that it can pose a problem to their emotional and social development.
In the study, young girls aged 8 to 12 who were subscribers of the Discovery Girls Magazine were asked to answer a survey that would determine how often they watched videos, listened to music, did their homework, chatted with their friends, and so on. They were also asked how often they tried to do two or three of the activities at the same time.
Results revealed that those who tend to multitask develop feelings of social inadequacy. They feel different, and they seem to have more friends their parents don’t really approve of. According to Clifford Nass, a communications professor at Stanford University, "When we media multitask, we're not really paying attention to the people around us and we get in a habit of not paying attention, and thus when I'm talking with you, I may be hearing the words, but I'm missing all the rich, critical, juicy stuff at the heart of emotional and social life."
For children, the crucial time for social and emotional development is between the ages of 8 and 12. And with the age of children learning to use gadgets and multitask getting younger and younger, there is a real problem.
However, there is a simple enough solution to get them back on track: face-to-face interaction. If your kids are multitaskers, just take the time to ask them about their day. Make sure that they’re looking at you when they answer and not just fiddling with their tablets or smartphones.
For more studies on multitasking, check out this article:
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(Photo by vauvau via Flickr Creative Commons)