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23 Excessive Multitasking on Smart Devices Effects Behavior and Cognition in Adolecents

Sub-Topics
1. Media Multitasking Develops Inadequate Sleep Schedules and Learning
2. Excessive use associated with Depression, Low self-esteem,and Social anxiety
3. Future generations more likely to experience behavioral issues
4. Work to prevent excessive social networking and smart device use


     The human brain has the capability to process and recall massive amounts of information, however there are limited amounts of activity we can process simultaneously. To cope with this, we result to shortcuts in order to maintain efficiency when multitasking. When practiced excessively, multitasking may result in emotional, behavioral, and cognitive issues.

     Due to progressive advancements in technology, it has become a significant aspect of  everyday societal routines; immersed in the education, financials, entertainment, and communication of virtually every individual. Today, the practice of engaging in two or more activities simultaneously has become a regular habitude through technology, particularly with smart phones/devices.

     Young adolescents are especially dependent on multitasking with smart devices for school, communicating with friends, and engaging on social media networks. Multitasking is not an uncommon practice among adolescents; those that have a smart device will tend to have it in their possession throughout the course of the day, and use it for several hours at a time. 


Media Multitasking Develops Inadequate Sleep Schedules and Learning


        Adolescents with smart devices typically engage in two or more social media networks for hours at a time; some of these include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and many others. Due to the availability of 24/7 access to communicate with friends, send and receive text messages, and post/browse on social media, spending long hours on a school night engaged with a smart device inevitably becomes a common practice.

       An individual in their adolescence would typically require up to 9 hours of sleep every night. Adolescents that are heavily invested with multitasking on multiple smart devices will eventually get fewer hours of sleep, resulting in a fatigued state of sleepiness throughout the day, and a difficult time meeting the cognitive demands of school. Students are expected to demonstrate compliance and focus throughout a typical school day, lasting approximately 6-8 hours. This becomes especially challenging when a student has adapted an inadequate sleep schedule.
   
     A study conducted by the School of Psychology and Exercise Science measures the correlation of  problematic social networking use with sleep disturbances, sleep quality, and school satisfaction in adolescents. This experiment was composed of 1,886 participants, with evenly distributed factors of race, gender, and socioeconomic status. 

      These self reports allow us to speculate the significant impact of the excessive and unhealthy use of smart devices on sleep and education. Each student had been asked a series of questions and told to respond through a 1-5 scale; 1 being the 'worst', and 5 being the 'best'.

     Showing signs of problematic social networking behavior, the participants have reported difficulty sleeping, as well as poorer sleep quality; resulting in an overall dissatisfaction with their focus in school.

    Engagement on social media networks is not an uncommon practice, in fact, it allows us to stay connected and communicate our ideas and messages around the world. Though this instance may be useful, it serves as a negative impact on excessive smart device users. 

Excessive use Associated with Depression, Low Self-Esteem,and Social Anxiety


      The ability to concentrate on a single task can be challenging for someone who does not regularly practice successfully completing one task at a time. Frequently switching between tasks may result in the deterioration of cognitive performance, which in turn brings poor focus and mindfulness; consequences of poor mindedness reflects an individuals inability to properly breakdown and internalize external situations.

     Investing several hours engaged on various social networking sites eventually gives an individual a sense of dissociation with their immediate surroundings. The stimuli derived from social media simulate emotional sensations that allow them to endure extensive periods of engagement, as well as enhanced enjoyment from a virtual reality. Due to the lack of actual human interaction, there is the gradual development of self isolation. The long term application of this lifestyle leads to a weaker understanding of real life implications, such as 'face-to-face' interactions.


      The virtual world of media is a complex outlet of communication and interaction. Adolescents that exhibit problematic behavior tend to look to social networking sites to fulfill their emotional needs, and a dependency on external stimuli for satisfy themselves. The regular application of this lifestyle causes higher stress levels, and less control over behavior; which in long term cases have been associated with low self-esteem, social anxiety, depression, and possibly an overall dissociative perspective of reality. 

Future Generations are more likely to Experience Behavioral issues


     According to a study conducted by Yubo Zhang, BS and Pei-Luen Patrick Rau, PhD; the percentage of self-reported smart device users that have engaged in multitasking behavior are rising at an average of 4% every year; which brings concern for our future generations physical and mental well being.

     As generations progress, people are familiarized with technology and engage in excessive smart device use at a much younger age. The amount of social media users is increasing as well. Due to the extreme technological advancements within the last few decades, there seems to be a trend in how much more of the population will fall into the consequences that accompany excessive multitasking on social networking sites.

     Creating a healthy mature mind relies on the interactions, experiences, and knowledge gained throughout the aging process. Having generations overuse technology at a much younger age puts our future generations at risk of developing cognitive and behavioral issues. Children and younger adolescents are in an especially vulnerable stage of their lives; insecurities and hormonal emotional instabilities make it more likely for the eventual development of  social anxiety, depression, and other issues.


Work to Prevent Excess Social Networking and Smart Device use


      Preventing the addictive and harmful consequences of excessive social media and smart device use relies on the efforts of simply spreading awareness. The impacts on the future generation's behavioral and cognitive health from loss of sleep, focus, and motivation must be shared.

   
George Washington University Graduate, Human Rights Activist, Procurement Specialist, and founder of msandi.com "Fariborz FRANK fouladi" discusses the possible benefits of multitasking

       Of course, there are positive aspects to multitasking as well. If one achieves results while multitasking, it can be beneficial in completing multiple tasks in a confined time range; allowing for a more efficient lifestyle. Even so, engaging in several tasks at once will prevent maximum focus and effort towards every task.

     Those who exhibit addictive and unhealthy behavior in using their smart devices are vulnerable to lasting negative effects. It is important to spread the awareness of this behavior, and educate on the potential dangers that come with excessive use. 

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