Essay on Media Multitasking & Adolescent Executive Function

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  927 Words
Date:  2023-01-26


The current epoch is characterized by a sharp increase and spread in the level of media multitasking among adolescents. As a result, critical concern has been raised on the likelihood of media multitasking among adolescents impacting negatively on goal-directed behaviour. The study, therefore, investigated the existing relationship between executive function among 523 early adolescents (aged 11-15; 48% girls) and media multitasking (Guy, Isquith, & Gioia, 2004). Three gravitas executive function components; inhibition, shifting and working memory were measured using self-reports and standardized performance-based tasks (Guiney & Machado, 2013). The outcome of the research asserted that adolescents who significantly engage themselves in media multitasking display problematic signs within the three scopes of executive functioning daily. An overall result of the investigation; therefore, affirms that media multitasking and daily life executive functioning is negatively related.

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The Method Used; Sample and Procedure

Collection of data for the study involved a total of six schools located in the Netherlands. It is worth to note that the school system in the Netherlands is categorized into three educational levels and thus the data was distributed across all the three levels as well as took into consideration both urban and suburban schools. In total therefore, 523 adolescents aged between 11 and 15(X age = 13.09, SD = 0.85, 48.2% girls) were the prime participants in the study (Bodnar, Prahme, Cutting, Denckla, & Mahone, 2007). Participation involved the adolescents having to fill an online survey which was conducted in their classes and lasted for close to 45 minutes.

Besides, the experimental cognitive task was conducted among the participants in individual sessions of up to two participants (Best & Miller, 2010). More so, laptops were used to perform the cognitive tasks and each participant used roughly 45 minutes. An adapted version of the measure was applied in measuring media multitasking (Anderson, Northam, Jacobs, & Mikiewicz, 2002). As a result, a total of nine media activities were assessed. The nine media activities included talking on the phone, watching TV, playing video games, reading, sending messages via phone or computer, watching movies on the computer, listening to music, using social networking sites and other computer services (Guy, Isquith & Gioia, 2004). The average time spent on the media activities stood between 1 to 6 hours by the participants' responses.

Results of the Investigation

The final results pointed out watching television while multitasking was the most prominent outcome. The sending of messages either through mobile phones or the internet when multitasking came second. The third most prominent outcome was listening to music while multitasking. The overall result, therefore, established that media multitasking across several types of Medias was more dominant than media multitasking involving non-media activities, for example, working out homework (Guiney & Machado, 2013). Also, engagement in media multitasking had no relationship with age in the study sample. The results also indicated that girls are more likely to be involved in multitasking as well as other activities (X = 1.43, SD = 0.40) as compared to boys(X = 1.36, SD = 0.36), t (521) = 2.02, p = .04 (Best & Miller, 2010).

Discussion; How the Study Findings Support the Purpose of the Research

The study established that indeed, media multitasking has a direct negative behavioural relationship aspect with executive function according to the assessment of daily functioning self-reports. Several problematic behavioural elements were reported in the daily lives of adolescents who were actively engaging in frequent multitasking. The chief problems experienced by such adolescents include challenges in staying focused, the inability to switch between tasks and the inhibition of inappropriate behaviours effectively. These problems further culminate into further social and school problems among adolescents. Therefore, the study findings support the purpose of the research that media multitasking is connected to cases of distractibility of school-related tasks among adolescents. Also, the study findings support the purpose of the study to prove that media multitasking is negatively related to social well-being, for instance, having social success and feeling normal.

Limitation of the Study

Among the leading limitation of the study is the fact that the self-reported measures of the executive function and media multitasking were measured differently, yet they were all centred on self-reports (Barkley, 1997). For instance, particular questions were used in the measuring of media multitasking. Thus, the cross-sectional design of the study makes it null and void the possibility of coming up with an affirmative conclusion. The conclusion should be able to give a clear illustration of the possible underlying mechanisms of the relationship or the causality of the relationship between executive functioning and media multitasking.

Suggestion for Future Research

In winding up, therefore, to achieve precise and reliable results, future research ought to pay critical attention to the casual relationship between executive functioning and media multitasking. More so, future research should go ahead and pursue in-depth investigations in potential neuropsychological correlates of media multitasking (Guiney, & Machado, 2013).


Anderson, V. A., Anderson, P., Northam, E., Jacobs, R., & Mikiewicz, O. (2002). Relationships between Cognitive and Behavioral Measures of Executive Function in Children with Brain Disease. Child Neuropsychology, 8, 231-240. doi:10.1076/chin.

Barkley, R. A. (1997). Behavioural Inhibition Sustained Attention, and Executive Functions: Constructing a unifying theory of ADHD. Psychological Bulletin, 121, 65-94. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.121.1.65

Best, J. R., & Miller, P. H. (2010). A developmental Perspective on Executive Function. Child Development, 81, 1641-1660. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2010.01499.x

Bodnar, L. E., Prahme, M. C., Cutting, L. E., Denckla, M. B., & Mahone, E. M. (2007). Construct validity of parent ratings of inhibitory control. Child Neuropsychology, 13, 345-362. doi:10.1080/09297040600899867

Guiney, H., & Machado, L. (2013). Benefits of Regular Aerobic Exercise for Executive Functioning in Healthy Populations. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 20, 73-86. doi:10.3758/s13423-012-0345-4.

Guy, S. C., Isquith, P. K., & Gioia, G. A. (2004). Behaviour Rating Scale of Executive Function-Self Report Version (BRIEF-SR). Lutz, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.

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