Texting, surfing … and studying?

In an age of multimedia and multitasking, we still have a lot to learn about how these activities affect students, reports the New York Times. "The literature looking at media and its impact on attentional skills is just in its infancy," said Renee Hobbs, a professor of mass media and communications at Temple University and a specialist in media literacy. And Dr. Victor C. Strasburger, a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, said, "Kids are spending an extraordinary amount of time with media," but added: "We don’t really know what they pay attention to, what they don’t. We don’t know how it impacts their school performance, whether it impacts their school performance." A recent and much-discussed study showed decreased productivity in adults who were multitasking, but scientists still don’t know whether today’s teens are any better at it. "It may be that multitasking is more of a problem for us old brains," Hobbs said. Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington who is a leading researcher on children and the media, speculated that teenagers might have some advantages, partly because of their presumably greater mental dexterity and partly–"and this is the part we don’t understand," he said–"because they really have come of age with these technologies."

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