The Effects of Everyday Multitasking and Technology Use on Performance in College Students

Authors:

Claudia Aguilar, Luis Juarez, Jose Lara-Ruiz, Aimee Miller

Mentor:

L. Mark Carrier, Professor of Psychology, Psychology Department Chair, California State University, Dominguez Hills

It has been suggested that young people from today’s modern technological environment have been exposed to so much technology usage that they have become masters at it, including having improved multitasking skills. This study examined whether performance on a simulated multitasking task (SMT) would be impacted by participants’ increasing everyday multitasking, technology use, or a combination of both. This study sampled undergraduate college students between the ages of 18 and 33 (N=78). A questionnaire was administered to assess everyday multitasking (EM) and technology use. Participants completed two tasks individually; one task involved responding to a series of simulated text messages, while the second task simulated a telephone conversation. The subjects then completed these two tasks simultaneously. Each activity was timed and errors were recorded by an experimenter. The results of analyses indicated that the High EM Group (M=.21, SD=.25) saved significantly more time by combining the tasks than completing them separately, when compared with the Low EM Group (M=.09, SD=.31); t(119)= -2.18, p<.05. Furthermore, their error rate did not increase as a function of multitasking. However, technology use was not associated with multitasking performance, nor was an interaction effect noted between variables. These findings are consistent with previous studies that have found no effect of technology use on multitasking performance. The results of this study suggest that exposure to and the practice of EM serves to enhance multitasking performance in the younger generation. These findings have implications for the field of child development, with respect to executive functioning, as well as improving educational programs and workplace efficiency. Future studies examining cross-generational effects, as well as applicability to real world settings are warranted. Keywords: college students, multitasking, technology


Presented by:

Jose Lara-Ruiz, Claudia Aguilar

Date:

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Time:

2:10 PM — 2:25 PM

Room:

Hoover 100

Presentation Type:

Oral Presentation

Discipline:

Psychology