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While it is considered as a good skill especially for people in the workforce, multitasking is actually not a good idea in terms of learning. Multitasking is not advisable especially for children because it has a negative effect in their learning abilities.
With the rise of digital era, children are grown to do several things at a time. Watching TV or playing games while doing their homework is one example. Others may consider it as a norm but apparently, it is not good for our children.
Multitasking affects the children’s learning abilities in different ways:
- Higher tendency to be a slow learner – because their brain processes several things at a time, they might have a higher chance of difficulty in grasping and processing future information given to them.
- Poor memory retention and recall process – children might have difficulty in recalling things in the past because of their divided attention while learning.
- Lower chance of getting things done – while others may think that multitasking helps people get things done faster, experts say that it slows that productivity of a person. They become easily distracted because of the switching focus of the brain.
- Mental exhaustion – juggling from one activity to another can stress the brain.
- Low quality learning – because of divided attention while trying to learn something, there is a tendency to take information rapidly without putting much effort to study if it’s relevant or not.
Researches also show how multi-tasking affects learning negatively. In an article published in UCLA Newsroom, Stuart Wolpert quoted Russell Poldrack on several statements. Russell Poldrack, an Associate Professor of Psychology who conducted a research about multi-tasking said “Multitasking adversely affects how you learn” (Poldrack 2006). Poldrack also states that people don’t learn as much when multitasking compared to when you are paying full attention. Distractions while learning affects the ability of the brain to absorb information and results to poor memory in the long run. Researchers also agree that this is one of the factors why children do not perform well in school.
It’s not arguable that multitasking can be considered as a skill or talent and is very helpful. However, there is also no harm in considering precautions about its negative effects especially if it concerns the learning abilities of our children. Considering that divided attention is a possible cause of children’s lower performance in school, it is very important for parents to practice several ways to avoid it.
For children with ADHD, we encourage them to work in a clean space or table without anything but the stuff they need for their homework or project. Limiting the objects they see in their surroundings can help them focus on a single thing. Sticking up to a time schedule is also advisable. Let the children do one thing at a given schedule. It helps them focus and at the same time practice their time management. It also increases their productivity because they are less distracted and so they can finish a task quickly.
There are other more ways to avoid multitasking and help children to increase their performance. However, the most important thing is the parents’ support and understanding of their children. You should know what your children needs. There are a lot of ways to guide you but there is no guarantee that one style could work for all. Only you can identify what’s best for your children.
Wolpert, Stuart. 2006. “Don’t Talk to a Friend While Reading This; MultiTasking Adversely Affects the Brain’s Learning Systems, UCLA Scientists Report.” UCLA Newsroom. July 25. Accessed October 9, 2018. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/Don-t-Talk-to-a-Friend-While-Reading-7212.
- Multi-tasking Adversely Affects Brain’s Learning, UCLA Psychologists Report – https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060726083302.htm
- Is Multitasking Bad for Students? – https://www.oxfordlearning.com/multitasking-while-doing-homework-studying/
- Multitasking Is Actually Kind Of A Problem – For Kids And Adults – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-switch/wp/2016/05/04/multitasking-is-actually-kind-of-problem-for-kids-and-adults/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8718468c5d1a