Efficient, helpful, or distracting? A literature review of media multitasking in relation to academic performance
Media multitasking, using two or more medias concurrently, prevails among adolescents and emerging adults. The inherent mental habits of media multitasking-dividing attention, switching attention, and maintaining multiple trains of thought-have significant implications and consequences for students' academic performance. The goal of this review is to synthesize research on the impacts of media multitasking on academic performance. The research indicates that media multitasking interferes with attention and working memory, negatively affecting GPA, test performance, recall, reading comprehension, note-taking, self-regulation, and efficiency. These effects have been demonstrated during in-class activities (largely lectures) and while students are studying. In addition, students struggle to accurately assess the impact media multitasking will have on their academic performance. Further research should attend to understanding effects of media multitasking in more diverse instructional contexts and for varied academic tasks. Fostering students' self-regulation around media multitasking is a promising area for future efforts towards improving academic performance of college students.