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It's 7:30 pm at Lisa's house and she's in her room doing her homework. However , homework is
just one of the things she's doing while her eyes are fixed on the computer screen. As well as studying for her Biology exam, Lisa is also listening to music, chatting with her best friend online, downloading songs and occasionally texting people on her mobile phone. '' My parents keep telling me off for multi-tasking while studying, but they don't understand that it helps me concentrate,'' she says.
It's not unusual for human beings to do several things at the same time but in our fast-paced technological society, the situation has come to a head. Young people today spend nearly 6 1/2 hours a day using various types of media, doing different things at the same time. This is the reason why they are called the multi-tasking generation, or Generation M. But how do their brains deal with multi-tasking? Automatic actions like walking and chatting on the phone can be done at the same time, but when it comes to learning new information , multi-tasking has a bad impact.
''Multi-tasking affects how you learn in a negative way,'' says Russell Poldrack , Associate Professor of Psychology at UCLA. Dividing your attention between too many activities makes the knowledge you gain harder to use later on. The researchers are not saying you shouldn't multi-task, just don't multi-task while you are trying to learn something new.
According to specialists, it is also essential to take time away from electronic media. ''At the sound of the bell, all my students reach into their bags and grab their mobile phones to text message their friends. It is as if they're afraid of silence,'' says Casey Roberts, a secondary school teacher. ''Their MP3 players, laptops and games consoles have become extensions of themselves. I really thing that Generation M should take time to relax and reflect. There's life beyond the screen and the pleasure of face-to-face communication can be neither denied nor replaced''.