You’ve probably read all about it. People who multi-task are no good at anything they do while multi-tasking, other than switching from one task to another.
That’s what the latest report says from a study by Stanford University. This is backed by findings published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Is there anything new here?
What’s new, or relatively so, is a fashionable idea that multi-tasking is a real cool thing to do, that doing two or more things at once can be effective. Anyone young and mentally agile can multi-task effectively.
Where did this come from? This myth that some people, that anyone can effectively multi-task?
In October 2001, Marc Prensky claimed that so-called digital natives “like to parallel process and multi-task”. This line has been quoted ad nauseam since then, to the degree that You have to multi-task! has become a work-place maxim.
A Google of the quoted phrase is likely to return at least 17,800 hits! Check it out.
Almost everything I read to do with multi-tasking seems to subject me to a brain-wash-like repetition that there are two species of people – those who can multi-task and those who cannot. On a number of occasions I have been told verbosely that these groups fall into the respective categories of so-called digital-natives and digital-immigrants.
Tragic statistical evidence
A recent legislation in New Zealand will outlaw driving while using a mobile phone, whether txting or in audio-conversation. That is unless dispensation is given for hands-free usage for specific purposes. Many other countries have already brought in similar legislation.
The decision to legislate was based on the tragic statistical evidence that people, no matter what their age – no matter what their mental ability, are incapable of giving their all to the important task of driving a vehicle when busy with another mind-engaging activity, such as using a phone. The move has considerable support from industry.
Thank goodness the legislators have managed to get it right. They have recognised that there can be serious consequences to assuming that when we see young kids engrossed in playing with new technology, their brains must work differently from their parents.
I am heartened that at least the concepts of so-called digital-native and digital-immigrant are shifting. Some of the changes come from people who are younger than half my age. That makes me feel good.
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