Older News  » Homework and multi-tasking

Last updated 10:56 AM on 15 September 2011

Can kids really do their homework and multi-task? Parents around the world are divided on this.

Half watch their teenagers sitting among a pile of books, earphones in, computer on, TV humming in the background and think, "I wish I could multi-task like that".

The others stride across the room, pull the plug on the distractions, and ask the age-old question: "How can you study with that on?"

What does the international research reveal about multi-tasking?

Here is a summary of the key findings:

  • Teenagers might be regularly multi-tasking, but that doesn't mean they are performing the tasks to the best of their ability.
  • Research has shown that multi-tasking reduces focus.
  • Dedicated study time without distractions produces better learning.
  • Multi-tasking is an unavoidable part of life, but it's best if teenagers don't try to do it while studying.

So the question isn't, "Should we multi-task?" - life is full of multi-tasking moments for us all. It's more a matter of when we should 'power down' and focus.

Rather than pulling the plug on every possible distraction ask your child to schedule some focused study time each day, at least for their most challenging subjects.

Multi-tasking is an essential skill to have, but when you really need to study, it could be working against you.

Find out more

The University of Oxford's Institute for the Future of the Mind

Vanderbilt University's Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neurosciences