Cybermedia Use, Multitasking, and Academic Distractibility

Cybermedia Use, Multitasking, and Academic Distractibility

Laura E. Levine, Bradley M. Waite, Laura L. Bowman
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch029
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Cyber-media use creates opportunities to engage in immediate, multiple, concurrent activities. Research has demonstrated that cyber-media users commonly take advantage of these opportunities to multitask by performing two or more simultaneous discrete activities. This pattern of cyber-media use may create demands on users’ attentional resources that result in difficulty with tasks that require focused attention. This review will examine connections among cyber-media use, multitasking and related academic distractibility, attention, and performance. Research on cyber-media distractibility is considered within the historical and intellectual context of related research in media psychology and on divided attention. Results generally suggest that multitasking leads to the division of attention, greater distractibility and poorer task performance across a variety of domains. However, the possibility of enhanced performance in some domains (e.g., visual attention) and for some information processing styles (e.g., tasks emphasizing breadth rather than depth and focus) cannot be discounted.
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There are two lines of research that have led to the current investigations of cyber-media use, multitasking and academic distractibility. The first is the history of research in media psychology on the effects of all types of media on inattention, distractibility and impulsivity. The second is the history of research in cognitive psychology on divided attention and the underlying principles that determine how effectively human beings can multitask.

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