Study Shows Kids Thrive on Multi-Screen Multitasking

By Tracey E. Schelmetic August 03, 2011

If you ever find yourself fretful and anxious after spending the day looking at a number of screens, chances are, you're “of a certain age.” (How's that for putting it nicely?) Kids don't suffer from such “screen overload,” new research says. In fact, they may thrive on it.

Scientists from the University of Bristol and Loughborough University in the UK questioned 10- and 11-old kids regarding their screen habits: television, cell phones, smart phones, PCs, tablet computers and video games. The study found that kids of this age actually enjoyed looking at more than one screen at a time, reports Science Daily.

Typically, the kids would have a primary screen and use a secondary screen as backup: playing a video game while text-messaging a friend, for example, or watching streaming video online during commercial breaks on a television show.

One of the study's authors point out that this behavior makes limiting kids' daily screen time – something recommended by pediatricians – even more challenging.

Dr. Jago, a researcher from the University of Bristol, said, "Health campaigns recommend reducing the amount of time children spend watching TV. However the children in this study often had access to at least five different devices at any one time, and many of these devices were portable. This meant that children were able to move the equipment between their bedrooms and family rooms, depending on whether they wanted privacy or company. So simply removing the TV from a child's room may not be enough to address the health concerns and we need to work with families to develop strategies to limit the overall time spent multi-screen viewing wherever it occurs within the home."

The study doesn't reach into what all this multi-screen multitasking may be doing to kids' brains and health. Some studies have already suggested that too much television, particularly during developmental years, can lead to conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The research was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Contributor

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