Media multitasking may be beneficial

April 13, 2012 at 7:17 PM
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HONG KONG, April 13 (UPI) -- Those who often use different types of media at the same time appear to be better at integrating information from multiple senses, Hong Kong researchers say.

Kelvin Lui and Alan Wong of The Chinese University of Hong Kong said to date, there has been a lot of publicity about the detrimental aspects of media multitasking -- using more than one form of media or technology simultaneously.

Research demonstrated impairments during certain cognitive tasks involving task switching, selective attention and working memory, both in the laboratory and in real-life situations.

The study involved 63 participants, ages 19-28 who completed questionnaires on media usage -- both time spent using various media and the extent to which they used more than one at a time.

The participants were then given a visual search task, with and without synchronous sound.

The study published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review found on average, participants regularly received information from at least three media at the same time and those performed better in the task when the tone was present than when it was absent.

"It appears that their ability to routinely take in information from a number of different sources made it easier for them to use the unexpected auditory signal in the task with tone, leading to a large improvement in performance in the presence of the tone," the study said.

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