A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Media Multitasking in American and Malaysian College Students

A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Media Multitasking in American and Malaysian College Students

Laura L. Bowman (Department of Psychological Science, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT, USA), Bradley M. Waite (Department of Psychological Science, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT, USA) and Laura E. Levine (Department of Psychological Science, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain, CT, USA)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/ijcbpl.2014070101
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Abstract

Asian societies have adopted electronic media in equal measure to western societies. Media use, its impacts and correlates have been examined in western and some Asian societies, but this study is unique in examining Malaysian students' use of media. Malaysian and American college students reported their electronic media use, reading activities and patterns of multitasking with media while studying. They also were administered an academic distractibility questionnaire and a standard self-report measure of impulsiveness. Results indicated that Malaysians reported more electronic media use than Americans as well as more multitasking with media and multitasking while studying. For both Malaysians and Americans, students who reported using social networking while studying scored higher on measures of distractibility and impulsiveness. A more complex pattern of results for other types of media use and reading are described.
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Introduction

Media consumption has expanded throughout the world and mobile phone use is inexpensive and common in many Asian countries (The Economist, 2010). Recent statistics show that the number of Internet users in Asia is the largest worldwide, approximately 33% greater than in North America, and growth in Asia since 2000 is over 840% compared to 150% in North America during the same period of time (Internet World Stats, n. d.). Individuals in Asia Pacific (e.g., Indonesia, Philippines, and Singapore) used mobile video more than those in America or Europe (Nielsen, 2012). While 85-91% of Americans surveyed reported owning a cell phone compared to 55% of Indonesians, Indonesians who did own a phone regularly made cell phone calls at a level equal to Americans (both 96%) and surpassed Americans in sending text messages (96% vs. 67-81%) (Duggan, 2013; Pew Research Center, 2012). Furthermore, more people in Asia Pacific owned or intended to buy a smartphone and were willing to use cell phones for transactions compared to consumers in North America (Nielsen, 2012). Smartphone users in China and South Korea tend to use their phones more for maintaining social relations by text messaging, emailing, instant messaging (IMing), and social networking rather than mobile shopping, banking, or streaming online music (Nielsen, 2013).

Young people worldwide are very active users of modern electronic media and devices. The Pew Research Center (2012) reported that young people aged 18-29 years in the United States, Europe and Asia were more likely to access the Internet on their mobile phones, use their cell phones for texting, taking pictures or videos, and use social networking compared to older people (50 +). Lin, Cheong, Kim and Jung (2010) conducted a cross-cultural assessment of Asian youths’ use of computers and the Internet. They compared students (aged 12-17 years) in Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, and Tokyo on the frequency of Internet use and frequency of specific online activities (e.g., chatting). Results indicated that over 90% of students in all five Asian cities were users of the Internet and had access to the Internet at home. Similarly, over 80% of all students used mobile phones. In Singapore, nearly all teens reported using a computer and the Internet, had Internet access at home, and were mobile phone users. Forty-eight percent reported using the Internet 5-7 days per week.

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