3 risks of digital multitasking for children

It is not uncommon to find our children doing their homework on their laptop, while they watch a series on the Tablet and check their social networks. The multitask and the use of digital tools is already common among younger children and adolescents. However, how does this affect your academic performance and the way your brains act?

In his book Hyperconnected and happy teenagers, its author, Antonio Milán, analyzes some of the effects of technology on the brains of children and young people and on their academic performance. On the one hand, it is undeniable that it has brought numerous benefits such as instant communication, unlimited access to information, the simplification of tasks, the possibility of knowing unsuspected places ... However, are all benefits?


The use of new technologies in the classroom and when doing homework is becoming commonplace, and one of the most outstanding features of digital tools is multitasking. However, so many technological advances can have great influence on the functioning of our children's brain and, therefore, on their academic performance.

Moderation is the key to avoiding the risks of multitasking

According to the latest PISA 2015 report, it is affirmed that both the lack of knowledge and the abusive use of the internet can harm the academic performance of adolescents. This means that those young people who use new technologies in their day to day in a moderate way usually get, in general, better grades than those who do not use or abuse these digital tools.


This study also states that students who are familiar with activities such as reading email, chatting, reading online news, and researching encyclopedias on the Internet have greater reading skills with printed texts.

Regarding the use of social networks, there are no conclusive data, but its massive use can lead to a worse academic performance. Most young people of school age with more than one profile in a social network recognize that these activities reduce time for study.

Risks of digital multitasking for children

Although the multitasking to which adolescents are accustomed seems, in principle, positive, reality is different. The brain is an organ with limited capabilities that is extremely sensitive to interference. By mixing several tasks that require our attention at the same time, errors are inevitable.


1. Fatigue The extent to which a child's brain can withstand multitasking over time and what effects this can have on the long term is not known. But there is no doubt that dealing with numerous stimuli at the same time produces fatigue, which does not allow young people to truly take advantage of the activities they perform.

2. Distraction. The neurologist and neuroscientist Facundo Manes says that "there is scientific evidence that people who work in multitasking modality disperse more when they go from one activity to another.These people tend to 'stick around' to irrelevant stimuli and get distracted easily."

3. Overvalue capabilities. Many times we believe that we are capable of doing several things at the same time with the same level of concentration, but this is not true. Our concentration is lower in each element which does not allow addressing more complicated or abstract issues or challenges.

Isabel López Vasquez

Video: Multitasking.wmv


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