Toronto: Parents, please take note! Researchers have found that the more time teenagers spend splitting their attention between various devices such as their phones, video games or TV, the lower their test scores in maths and English tend to be.
More time spent multitasking between different types of media is also associated with greater impulsivity and a poorer working memory in adolescents, said one of the study authors Amy Finn from the University of Toronto.
The term “media multitasking” describes the act of using multiple media simultaneously, such as having the television on in the background while texting on a smartphone, Finn explained.
While it has been on the rise over the past two decades, especially among adolescents, its influence on cognition, performance at school, and personality has not been assessed before.
For the study the researchers surveyed 73 eighth grade students.
Overall, participants reported consuming a great deal of media, and on average watched 12 hours of television per week. They tended to multitask between mediums 25 percent of the time.
The results show how participants’ media consumption patterns outside of school are related to their performance in school tests.
The researchers found that teenagers who spent more time media multitasking fared significantly worse academically than others.
They scored lower in certain aspects of their working memory, tended to be more impulsive and were more likely to believe that intelligence is not malleable.
The study was published in Springer’s journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.
“We found a link between greater media multitasking and worse academic outcomes in adolescents. This relationship may be due to decreased executive functions and increased impulsiveness – both previously associated with both greater media multitasking and worse academic outcomes,” Finn explained.