With an increase in technology, kids are being introduced to the art of multitasking at younger and younger ages. When older kids and adults sit down to work we get an email, a notification that something’s been posted on our wall, a text, or a phone call. There are those educators and parents who fully embrace technology and the constant attention it demands and those that recoil at the idea of giving rambunctious kids any tool that could tear their attention away from the task at hand.
However, David Levy, the author of Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Document in the Digital Age said in an article with Mind/Shift that “multitasking presents us with an opportunity to take control of the situation, starting at a young age.” He believes that we are taught to feel like victims of the Internet and it’s accessories, instead of taught the skills we need to thrive in a culture wired to technology.
Recently, Levy performed a study on mindfulness training aimed to show how two different groups coped in the same stressful environment: one group received meditation training and the other did not. Each group was put into a “highly stressful 20-minute multitasking exercise during which they were asked to deal with simultaneous demands like instant messages, alarms, phone calls, texts, and people asking questions. The results showed the ones who were taught meditation exercises could spend longer amounts of time on a specific task. Meditation was the tool they needed to focus on what was important and allow them to ignore what they felt wasn’t important.
“Attention is like a muscle that needs to be trained,” says Mind/Shift’s Tina Barseghian.
Either at home or in the classroom, introduce easy meditation techniques, like calming deep-breathing exercises, relaxing techniques, and mindfulness training. Practice these techniques when you feel stressed out by the noises of your environment and encourage students to tap into these practices when they start to feel overwhelmed.
“How Meditating Helps with Multitasking,” by Tina Barseghian. 26 October 2011. Mind/Shift. 28 October 2011. <http://mindshift.kqed.org/2011/10/how-meditating-helps-with-multitasking/>