The following is a summary of findings and implications from my latest paper with Shelia Cotten entitled Perceived academic effects of instant messaging use to be published in Computers & Education.
Summary of Findings:
- IM users spend a great deal of time actively chatting (120 minutes per day on average).
- 97% of IM users reported multitasking by doing something else on the computer while chatting.
- 93% reported multitasking by engaging in a non-computer related activity (watching television, talking on the phone, etc.) while chatting.
- 93% reported that they had actively chatted and performed schoolwork at the same time.
- 57% of IM users reported that doing schoolwork while IMing had a detrimental effect on theirschoolwork.
- Students who spent more time actively chatting via IM per day were more likely to report academic impairment.
- Students who reported higher frequencies of doing schoolwork while IMing were more likely to report academic impairment.
- Students who reported multitasking by doing another activity on the computer or another activity not on the computer, were more likely to report academic impairment.
- Women were more likely to report a detrimental impact of multitasking on their schoolwork.
- Older students were less likely to report academic impairment because of multitasking.
- While use of IM may be beneficial for enhancing social connections and well-being, our research suggests amount of time spent IMing is not beneficial for college students completing schoolwork.
- College students are aware that multitasking hurts their academics; however, they continue to multitask.
- Based on background characteristics and the ways they use technology, certain students are at higher risk of academic impairment.
- We hypothesize about the existence of a “multitasking personality” among college students. While our research can’t identify such personalities, our results suggest that some college students may multitask at such high levels that it has become normative for them in many ways.
You can download a PDF of the manuscript here.