DML: Media Multitasking: Cognitive Correlates and Youth Development


Media multitasking is a defining feature of the emerging social media environment. The 2005 Kaiser Family Foundation report provided the first large-scale documentation of youth engaging in more than one media activity at a time — children spent 6.5 hrs a day experiencing media, but in those hours incorporated 8.5 hrs of media use by engaging with more than one medium at once. The 2010 Generation M2 Kaiser study revealed how young people have increased the time they spend consuming media to 7.5 hrs, now packing 10.75 hrs of media content into those hours. As attention is the scarcest resource in the Information Age, and instrumental to learning, memory, and social relationships, it is worth deepening our attention to how media multitasking is contributing to youth development.


LARGE SCALE SURVEY RESEARCH: Cliff Nass and Roy Pea (Stanford University) will present the findings of their new study (with Mehe’ula and Rance) of over 3,400 tweenage girls, aged 8-12, examining how extent of video use and media multitasking correlates with indices of social well being and friendship.


LABORATORY STUDIES: Stanford University’s Aman Kumar will present results from two different studies – one of cognitive control, one of LSAT analytical and logical reasoning items – which have mapped out how high media multitaskers and low media multitaskers of college age differ in their information processing styles.


THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS: UCLA’s Patricia Greenfield will propose distinguishing three different types of media multitasking, and will summarize the pluses and minuses of media multitasking from the literature.


Linda Burch of Common Sense Media will discuss the current state of parental concerns about youth media multitasking in relation to schooling, family and social life, and how they seek a balanced approach to advising parents.


Our design of this panel will proceed with short presentations from contributors, followed by highly-interactive moderated discussion among the panel and audience on research topics and findings. Stanford University’s Don Roberts, lead designer and data analyst of the 2005 and 2010 Generation M and Generation M2 Kaiser Family Foundation studies, will provide an integrative discussion and moderate interactions among panel and audience.
Open challenges will be discussed, including definitional issues, pathways of causation for multitasking and its correlates, policy issues for parents and schools, and opportunities for technology design innovations relating to media multitasking. We will stimulate research questions and elicit priorities for needed studies on the implications of media multitasking for learning, cognitive and social development.