Multitaskers who think they can successfully divide their attention between the program on their television set and the information on their computer screen proved to be driven to distraction by the two devices, according to a new study of media multitasking by Boston College researchers.
Placed in a room containing a television and a computer and given a half hour to use either device, people on average switched their eyes back and forth between TV and computer a staggering 120 times in 27.5 minutes – or nearly once every 14 seconds, Carroll School of Management professors S. Adam Brasel and James Gips report in a forthcoming edition of the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
While researchers – and the parents of millions of teenagers – have long suspected media multitasking was distracting, Brasel and Gips used advanced cameras to track where research subjects were looking to understand the physical demands and likely disruption caused by switching between the television and computer.
"We thought it was going to be high, but the frequency of switching and amount of distraction going on was really shocking," said Brasel, an associate professor of marketing.
What's more, the subjects were not even aware of their own actions. On average, participants in the study thought they might have looked back and forth between the two devices about 15 times per half hour. In reality, they were looking nearly 10 times as often. And even if quick "glances" less than 1.5 seconds are removed from the equation, people were still switching over 70 times per half hour.
"What we found is that when people try to pay attention to multiple media simultaneously they are switching back and forth at an astounding rate," said Brasel. "We're not even aware of what we are doing when in multi-media environments."
Study participants who thought they were only looking at the computer during TV commercials, or said they thought they were watching TV while web pages were loading, were actually behaving much differently.
The findings have sweeping implications for millions of people as well as companies that use television advertisements, web ads and web content to connect with consumers. Prior surveys have shown 59 percent of Americans say they now use their computer and television at the same time. In addition, youths under 18 report this type of media multitasking is now the dominant mode in which they use both devices.
Brasel and Gips determined that when it comes to the dominant medium in this side-by-side challenge, the computer comes out the winner, drawing the attention of the study participants 68.4 percent of the time. But neither device proved capable of holding the attention of study participants for very long, regardless of their age. The median length of gaze lasted less than two seconds for television and less than six seconds for the computer, the researchers found. It's not just younger people who are rapid-fire switching between media; men and women over 40 who participated in the study still switched an average of nearly 100 times in 27.5 minutes. It was rare that a person looked at either screen for more than a minute. Just 7.5 percent of all computer gazes and 2.9 percent of all glances at the television lasted longer than 60 seconds, the study found.
Understanding the physical behavior of multi-media multitaskers raises questions about the level of comprehension among people who switch their eyes between the devices, specifically the impact on productivity or on children doing their homework. For companies that rely on TV or the Internet to communicate with consumers, the findings raise questions about the effectiveness of the two channels as means to garner the attention of potential customers.
For both parents and marketers, a new media age has arrived with profound effects. The researchers note the study did not take into account the impact of another ubiquitous device that's now a staple of the media mix: the mobile phone.
"Clearly, the rules we developed for the mono-media culture no longer apply," said Brasel. "Our assumptions about how people are using media need to be updated. The era of the mono-media environment is over."
Note: The paper "Media Multitasking Behavior: Concurrent Television and Computer Usage," forthcoming in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, is available for free download at the following link: http://www.liebertonline.com/toc/cyber/0/0
Ed Hayward | EurekAlert!
The importance of biodiversity in forests could increase due to climate change
17.11.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
15.11.2017 | Event News
15.11.2017 | Event News
30.10.2017 | Event News
17.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
17.11.2017 | Health and Medicine
17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses