Multitasking Drives

It is true, and in fact some might say obvious, that multitasking is becoming more and more of an issue with the rise of digital technology. It seems sensible, logical, and understandable that the more people can do at a certain point in time, the more they multitask. People now have temptations that drive them to multitask all the time. On your cell phone in class you have Facebook, Twitter, your email, Youtube, and basically anything that you want to do. If you’re getting a bit bored in class you can simply decide to chat with a friend while you listen to the professor to make class seem a bit more fun. Even if you decide to study at home, you still have all these social networking sites just lurking over the corner of your paper. If you’re Googling “Stress” for example for a paper, and another interesting search result comes up but it isn’t really talking about stress, you can’t help but check it out. After all, it is only going to take one minute.


But then that link takes you to three others, and each of those takes you to four different ones, and the cycle of multitasking only becomes fiercer. Now you have about 5 “interesting tabs” open, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, your email, and then that paper that you have to do. Of course if you’re multitasking through all of these, the more fun and attractive something is, the more attention it gets. Your paper has suddenly moved to the bottom of the list.

A pair of Cornell researchers conducted some research where they split students into two groups. One group was allowed to surf the web while listening to the lecture, and the other group had to keep their laptops shut. A log of their activity on these websites showed that the first group did not only surf the web, but also visited sites that were unrelated to the lecture, checked their email, went online shopping, watched videos, checked Facebook, etc….

Immediately after the lecture, both groups took a test. The first group that had multitasked performed significantly poorer than the second group that was just focused on listening to the lecture. The research was later replicated with almost the exact same result. yet another study to show us how poor multitasking makes our abilities.

"Multitasking: how doing it all gets nothing done" Dave Crenshaw

Not only do the less fun, and usually more important things receive less attention, but performance on everything in general declines with multitasking. Your attention span is always the same, and when you multitask you spread it over the several things that you’re doing. Instead of giving deep focused attention to one thing, you give fragmented, short lived scans to many tasks.
One of the main multitasking drives is curiosity. After not checking Facebook for half an hour, you start to think about what might be going on there. Even worse, sometimes you get a notification that tells you that someone did something. What could it be? Did someone write on my wall? Did someone comment on a photo of me? Was I invited to an event? I honestly haven’t had the experience of having these thoughts. My curiosity is always too strong to resist and I open the notification right away.


1. Glenn, David. "Divided Attention." The Chronicle of Higher Education. 28 Feb. 201. Web. 4 May 2011. <>.

2. Meadows, Chris. "Do We Not Read As Much Anymore Because The Internet Has Sapped Our Attention Span?" TeleRead. Web. 15 May 2011. <>.