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ERIC Number: ED527858
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Dec
Pages: 39
Abstractor: ERIC
Media Multitasking among American Youth: Prevalence, Predictors and Pairings
Foehr, Ulla G.
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
In the past, multitasking was a juggling act performed by busy adults, as they tried to manage jobs, chores, carpools, and PTA meetings. But recently, teens and tweens have turned into the real experts at multitasking, as their lives become chock-full of organized activities. For them, multitasking has simply become a way of life: "If I couldn't multitask, I couldn't do what I do... I'd have to cut a sport, or cut a class" says one high school junior (Hafner, 2001). With the exception of anecdotal evidence and a few surveys, researchers have little information about the extent and nature of adolescent media multitasking. The questions the researchers are investigating are new: questions such as "How prevalent is media multitasking?" "Who is media multitasking?" "Is media multitasking behavior related to other media behaviors or personal characteristics?", and "Which activities are most often multitasked?" Two major findings emerge from this research regarding the pairing of media. First, it is evident that when watching TV, a young person is not usually media multitasking (indeed, is less likely to be multitasking than when using any other medium), but when a young person is media multitasking there is likely television involved. Second, computer activities are the most multitasked activities in this study and, unlike the situation with television, music or reading, most of computer time devoted to secondary activities is overwhelmingly media-based. This research also suggests that some young people are more likely to media multitask than others. Certainly more research is needed to understand the nuances of likelihood to media multitask, but the current findings can guide individuals in their search for more detailed answers. Young people who are exposed to the most media, those who have a computer and can see a television from it, those who are sensation seekers, those who live in highly TV-oriented households, and girls (more than boys) are all more likely to media multitask. These characteristics seem to point to two factors that may drive media multitasking: a need, or a motivation, to media multitask (to fit in everything they want to do), and the opportunity to media multitask. Methodology is appended. (Contains 9 tables, 6 figures and 18 endnotes.)
Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2400 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. Tel: 650-854-9400; Fax: 650-854-4800; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A