Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How good a multitasker are you?

Matt Richtel has written a comprehensive article in the New York Times about the impact of iPhones, video games, and multitasking on the human brain. While based on the experiences of one family, the article cites fascinating research on how our society's growing obsession with gadgets is changing how we prioritize information and relationships. Some tasty quotes:

"'The technology is rewiring our brains,' said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse and one of the world’s leading brain scientists. She and other researchers compare the lure of digital stimulation less to that of drugs and alcohol than to food and sex, which are essential but counterproductive in excess."

"At home, people consume 12 hours of media a day on average, when an hour spent with, say, the Internet and TV simultaneously counts as two hours."

"Other tests at Stanford, an important center for research in this fast-growing field, showed multitaskers tended to search for new information rather than accept a reward for putting older, more valuable information to work."

"[T]he ultimate risk of heavy technology use is that it diminishes empathy by limiting how much people engage with one another, even in the same room. 'We are at an inflection point,” [Stanford communications professor Clifford Nass adds:] “A significant fraction of people’s experiences are now fragmented.'"
Read the entire piece: Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price

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