Are Kids Too Wired For Their Own Good?

My title for this blog is also the title of the cover story for this week's issue of Time Magazine. Generally, within a half hour of pulling the latest issue of Time out of the mailbox I have thrown it in the garbage without a single glance at anything other than the cover. But this particular topic caught my interest.

Right now I am watching Pride and Prejudice and blogging (obviously ;) and am well aware that writing is taking precedence over watching the movie. In the article, they talk about how high school and college kids would be not only blogging and watching a DVD, but quite probably trying to do homework and IMing and listening to their iPod at the same time. (The very thought of watching a movie and listening to music at the same time makes me want to shriek; I can't stand having two noises on which to concentrate; it actually makes me physically uncomfortable).

Is it a generational thing or am I the only person born after 1980 who hates multi-tasking? Two things at a time is enough for me. Any more than that and I must give up one or more of the activities I am pursuing. For instance, if someone called me right now, I would definitely not be able to continue blogging and I would most likely pause the movie because I get distracted too easily and would soon be watching the movie rather than listening to my caller.

I love my iPod; the ability to carry my entire music collection with me and enjoy it at will is wonderful, but I've noticed that there are times during my day that I just have to take the headphones out and enjoy the silence. Even when I'm on the Metro, I sometimes prefer the noise of the people around me and the train to the noise I have purchased and stored on my shiny new Apple product.

Apparently, multi-tasking is not really concentrating on more than one thing at a time, anyway. Multi-tasking is like much toggling between windows on a computer screen; one is actually doing one task at a time for a very brief period before moving on to the next task. Through studies of this behavior, they have shown that multi-tasking is deterimental to productivity. "When people try to perform two or more related tasks either at the same time or alternating rapidly between them, errors go way up, and it takes far longer-often double the time or more-to get the job done than if they were done sequentially..."

Technology is our friend. I love computers and iPods and digital cameras and cell phones (even though I rarely use mine), but I also love laying in my bed, listening to the birds and trees outside my window and reading a good book for hours on end or sitting in a beautiful park watching people and listening to their noises.

It will be a challenge for our generation to come up with strategies for keeping our children from becoming glued to their portable technological devices. I guess it will start with not buying lots of gadgets for them and end with all of us leading by example by doing our best to live balanced lives.

Well, I'm going to get back to my movie...maybe I'll even start from the beginning again because Keira Knightley deserves everyone's undivided attention.
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