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How Well Do You Multitask Between the TV and the Computer?

Many of us do it and think it doesn’t hurt anything — we multitask between watching television and working on the computer, whether it’s surfing the web, posting an update to Facebook or Twitter, or uploading our latest photos to Flickr. We multitask on the computer, with the TV on in the background, and believe we are “watching” TV.

But are we really? How much multitasking are we really doing, and how much do we think we’re doing? How often are we switching between tasks over the course of 30 minutes? Take a guess right now. Do you switch your attention 20 times while watching a TV show? 40 times?

Keep going.

Researchers found the average amount of attention switching done in their study was 120 times in one 27.5 minute period. That averages out to more than 4 times a minute. That’s 4 times a minute your brain is trying to switch gears and make sense out of a new set of visual (and auditory) stimuli.

What else did the researchers find out?

3 Comments to
How Well Do You Multitask Between the TV and the Computer?

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  1. The multitasking line between being online and watching TV is very blurry. After all, when I’m watching tv through, I also am online since all the tv shows are streamed over the internet. And at the same time I can click on links to related sites while watching TV shows.

  2. If a show doesn’t really grab me, I tend to focus on the computer, only to find the show I did want to see has come and gone. But thanks to many Web sites, I can catch it later. This is especially true if I’m writing.

  3. I find TV to be very distractive, when I am on the computer I usually need to focus. Tv just sounds like noise. I guess I am not a very good at doing both.

  4. I am a 21 year old college student and I find that having the TV on while doing my homework or studying is very helpful. Although, I do make sure to not have the volume extremely high and distractive. I just like the noise in the background. Complete silence is more distracting to me.


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