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AAP: Today's Teens Can Be Adept Multitaskers

Some kids do just fine juggling multiple forms of media throughout the day, research suggests

MONDAY, Oct. 13, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New research conducted by high school students indicates that some youth do equally well on tasks when moving between their laptops, smartphones, and other devices, compared to less media-focused teens. The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), held from Oct. 11 to 14 in San Diego.

The study included about 400 students of both sexes, aged 10 to 19. All were asked about their daily media habits and then tested on their ability to switch between tasks and focus on a single task, with and without distractions.

Those who scored high on the "media multitasking index" averaged more than three hours a day of multitasking, the study found. They also managed to complete an average of 3.5 hours of homework a day, all while juggling multiple tasks for more than 50 percent of this time. Students who scored low on the multitasking index averaged about 20 minutes a day of multitasking, did 2.5 hours of homework a day, and multitasked 0.08 percent of this time. The "high multitaskers" were better at filtering out distractions but less able to focus on single tasks, while the opposite was true for low multitaskers.

"We must emphasize that most people performed best when focused on just one task. However, there was a group that provided us with an exception to that finding -- the high media multitaskers," Sarayu Caulfield, a senior at Oregon Episcopal School in Portland, said in an AAP news release.

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