What are the downsides of multitasking?

Media multitasking is doing several tasks at the same time, such as texting while watching TV, posting on Instagram while talking to friends, or switching among programs on a computer. Kids who are socially active on their devices often multitask. It may make them less productive because the brain must refocus every time it switches to a new activity. They also may have trouble remembering things that occurred while they were multitasking. Some research even suggests heavy multitasking may be associated with social anxiety and depression.

In most cases, a balanced approach to media will help your kids avoid the downsides of multitasking. These tips can help.

Keep your kids on task. Limit them to one screen and one activity at a time (especially when they're doing schoolwork), and reward them for sticking to it.

Model balanced media habits. Show your kid how you want him to use media by practicing what you preach. That includes not interrupting conversations with technology.

Co-view or co-play. Ask your kid to show you what she's watching and playing. Sharing and explaining something challenges kids to think more deeply.

Establish media-free times and zones. Explain that at certain times of the day and in certain places in the house, media is not welcome. Use those times and places to focus on one thing. Kids need time away from stimuli to help them learn to focus.

Help your kid increase his ability to concentrate. Whatever activity she's engaged in, encourage her to think or focus for one more minute.

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