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Drop That BlackBerry! Multitasking May Be Harmful 

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Old 08-25-2009, 08:08 PM
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Drop That BlackBerry! Multitasking May Be Harmful

Ever find yourself chatting via instant messaging while checking your e-mail and surfing the Web? Well, don't pat yourself on the back for your super-productive behavior.

... new study suggests that people who often do multiple tasks in a variety of media -- texting, instant messaging, online video watching, word processing, Web surfing, and more -- do worse on tests in which they need to switch attention from one task to another than people who rarely multitask in this way.

Specifically, heavy multitaskers are more easily distracted by irrelevant information than those who aren't constantly in a multimedia frenzy, according to the study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One reason may be because the multitaskers tend to retain the distracting information in their short-term memory, which affects their ability to focus, compared with people who don't check their e-mail while talking on the phone and sneaking in some online shopping. Health.com: The best memory boosters for women

"This study adds to a growing body of literature that says, in general, that multitasking is going to be problematic for people, that it does compromise productivity, and that its consequences can be quite severe in situations like driving," says David W. Goodman, M.D., the director of the Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Center of Maryland, in Baltimore, who was not involved in the research.

In the study, Clifford Nass, Ph.D., and colleagues at Stanford University gave 262 college students a questionnaire about what types of media they used and how often they used them simultaneously. Examples included video or computer games; online audio, video, or television; telephone and cell phones; instant and text messaging; and other computer-based applications, such as word processing.

The volunteers then took a series of tests in which they had to categorize words, evaluate on-screen red triangles (while ignoring blue ones), switch back and forth between classifying letters and numbers, or press a button when there was a match between two letters presented at different times. Health.com: How to get your way with body language


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Old 08-26-2009, 12:54 PM
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Re: Drop That BlackBerry! Multitasking May Be Harmful

I totally multi-task. I talk on the phone while feeding my kid and either healing or tanking in World of Warcraft and watching TV at the same time.

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