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You Can't Multitask and Concentrate!

New research has discovered that people who watch television while operating a laptop, cannot give either one of them full attention. In a half hour experiment, attention switched between the two devices almost every 14 seconds.

Boston College has published its findings in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking and confirmed that, as expected, teenagers were easily distracted: average switching between the two devices 120 times in under twenty eight minutes, proved what many people have thought about the concentration abilities of young people.

However, adults over 40 also failed to multitask effectively, with 100 switches in the time. So, it would appear that people do not have the ability to do many electronic things simultaneously.

Professor Adam Brasel led the study. He is an expert in visual marketing, looking at things like: ‘how rapidly changing media environment affects consumer perception and visual processing’.

Some of his other specific projects have explored how fast-forwarding through television commercials constrains visual attention and how consumers react to promotions inserted into online services.

On the issue of how people allocate their attention while accessing multimedia simultaneously, he told the Daily Telegraph (28 September 2011) that the amount of distraction and frequency of switching was ‘shocking’.

He raised the point that assumptions about how people use media need to be updated in the light of more and more devices coming on (constant) stream. Is it realistic for people to expect to keep control as they operate so much technology simultaneously?

Photo: .imelda at flickr

Professor Adam Brasel.
Boston College.
Cyberspace, Behavior and Social Networking.

See also:
The Communication Paradox.
Is the Web Bad for Brains?
The Limits of Technology, Knowledge and the Human Brain