Too Much Media: Is it Bad for You?

Media Multitasking may allow for better integration between senses

(RxWiki News) Previous studies have suggested there are negative consequences of too much media multi-tasking - lower attention, working memory, and others. However, there may be positive effects as well.

A new study suggests that heavy media multi-taskers, those who participate in more than one media experience simultaneously, may have a greater ability to integrate information from multiple senses at once.

"Ask your psychologist for more information about the effects of multimedia experiences."

The study was led by Kelvin Lui and Alan Wong from The Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The researchers asked 63 participants, between 19 and 28 years old, to complete a questionnaire in order to determine media usage habits. Then, the participants were asked to complete a visual search related task. The exercise was completed both with and without accompanied sound effects.

While completing the task participants received information from at least three media sources at once. Those who regularly used multiple media at one time were more efficient at completing the task when a sound effect was used. Those who didn’t regularly media multi-task were less efficient.

However, when the sound effect was not present - the results were flipped around. Those that media multi-tasked less were more efficient at the search task.

The researchers say that more research is needed to provide more information, but the study suggests that there may be positive benefits to media multi-tasking.

"Although the present findings do not demonstrate any causal effect, they highlight an interesting possibility of the effect of media multitasking on certain cognitive abilities, multisensory integration in particular. Media multitasking may not always be a bad thing," says the study authors.

The study will be published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. 

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Review Date: 
April 16, 2012