As a result of living in a fast-paced world driven by technology and speed, we have developed the habit of using multiple medias simultaneously. Students are particularly seen streaming Netflix and listening to music while reading or writing papers. Researchers questioned how media multitasking affects information processing. Based on the Media Multitasking Index (MMI), 454 participants were designated as either low media multitaskers (LMMs) or high media multitaskers (HMMs). They attempted to solve three puzzles that had immediately intuitive, but wrong, answers. The correct response, on the other hand, required deliberate logical thinking. Each participant was scored based on how many correct answers they gave for three questions. HMMs scored significantly lower than LMMs, indicating that media multitasking erodes their abilities to analyze details.
The figure shows that HMMs generated only 0.4 right answers while LMMs produecd 0.6. The lesser amount of correct responses demonstrates that HMMs are more likely to rely on immediate reactions. The study found that the brains of HHMs were using more decision-making heuristics, or shortcuts, and less deliberate logical processing compared to the brains of LMMs.* However, critics may claim that a 0.2 difference between the scores is not enough to support that media multitasking has cognitive consequences. Though 0.2 sounds small, LMMs were correct 50% more often than HMMs. The p value 0.007 gives statistical significance between the number of correct answers produced by HMMs compared to LMMs. There is only a 0.7% chance that these results are due to random chance. Media multitasking negatively affects how the brain processes information.
The significantly lower number of correct answers provided by HMMs compared to LMMs indicates that media multitasking reduces logical processing capacity. Due to their reliance on a faster, less effortful processing style, HMMs absorb only a fraction of the information they are given, which often leads to incorrect responses. Students today often use multiple devices at once and divide their attention between several tasks. It is important to change these multitasking habits because exposure to multiple medias reduces our brains’ abilities to think logically which does not bode well for reading or writing papers.
* Schutten, Dan et al. Cognitive research: principles and implications vol. 2.1 (2017): 8.