Patterns of multitasking behaviours of adolescents in digital environments

Karen Ettinger, Anat Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The centrality of multitasking in teenagers’ lives has triggered vast interest in popular and academic discussion. Due to a large inconsistency in the study and multitasking reporting, we endeavoured to better understand and characterize multitasking behaviors. We researched multitasking patterns, prevalence, types, combinations and gender differences of adolescents using observations, in-depth interviews and questionnaires. The results showed a large variety of multitasking prevalence and types that we categorized as simultaneous multitasking and task switching. Most of the observed multitasking was actually task switching with a higher frequency of multitasking during leisure than during study time. An interesting finding is a connection between the natures of tasks: passive, active or incidental and the multitasking type. We demonstrated that most multitasking involved combinations of music, texting or activities on social networks, but seldom combining video games. Gender differences in multitasking were also observed, especially with regard to the nature of the task combinations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-645
Number of pages23
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Adolescent behavior
  • Attention
  • Digital technology
  • Multitasking
  • Task switching

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