We know texting while driving has consequences, but what about texting when doing homework?
It’s something almost all kids do, and most parents have also been known to check their text messages at their desk. If we’re being honest, most of us have our cell phone within arm’s reach when we’re at work, and we will glance at it from time to time. When we’re defending the practice we call it “multitasking.” How bad could it really be?
Pretty bad, according to a recent study that found the mere presence of a smartphone reduces a person’s ability to focus. In the study, undergraduates asked to leave their phones in another room did better on cognitive tests than those who were asked to silence their phones and leave them face down on their desk or in a bag.
In the experiment, even students who said they weren’t thinking consciously about their cell phones still experienced a loss in ability, which means some of this distraction is happening on an unconscious level. This is bad news for those of us who think we’re pretty good at not being distracted by the phone when we’re working.
“I hear about these issues about technology all the time,” says Matt Cruger, director of the Learning and Development Center at the Child Mind Institute. He says that with the kids he works with, he isn’t concerned about their capacity to be able to do homework, but with “the capacity to really get in the mindset of thinking about homework-related activities.” In other words, they could do their work if they were able to focus on it. And while trouble focusing on homework is hardly something new for children, captivating new technologies aren’t making it any easier.
Why are tech devices so distracting? For starters, most apps and web content are engineered to be as user-friendly and addictive as possible. They ping us with notifications when we get a new message or when someone has posted something we might be interested in. They are reliable sources of validation that tell us when someone likes something we’ve posted.
And we know there is always something new to look at. Even if we haven’t heard the buzz alerting us to something new, we might find ourselves restlessly reaching for the phone to scroll through the constantly updating feeds full of pictures and headlines and jokes curated just for us. We might also feel some pressure to keep up.
But there are also some less-obvious reasons why kids may be particularly hooked. Phones are where young people do a lot of their socializing now, especially as they reach the pre-teen and teenage years, when their major developmental goals are to start crafting an identity separate from their parents and to prioritize forming friendships with their peers — goals that are made for spending hours on social media.
Compared to adults, kids also have a less developed ability to control their impulses. If it’s sometimes hard for their parents to unplug, imagine how hard it is for a child who struggles with impulsivity or a teen with a new BFF to resist checking her phone. Prioritizing getting started on a book report or even studying for tomorrow’s test won’t be nearly as compelling.
Many adults and kids share the idea that when we are texting or monitoring feeds while we work we are still being productive — we are able to juggle everything at once. But neuropsychologists aren’t optimistic about how productive multitasking really is. “Having multiple sources of technology at your fingertips and available at all times probably is almost a guarantee of a reduction in performance and productivity,” says Dr. Cruger.
For one thing, there’s what experts call “resumption lag.” That’s the period of time between when you were interrupted from a task and when you resume it. Transitioning between tasks isn’t seamless, and the time spent collecting your thoughts prior to resuming a task add up.
A study out of Stanford in 2009 examined how well multitaskers are able to process information. People considered heavy media multitaskers were found to have more difficulty ignoring irrelevant but distracting things in their environment. As a result they actually performed worse on a test of task switching ability when compared to people who were lighter multitaskers.
Multitasking means working less efficiently even when you think you’re applying yourself. That’s because people dividing their attention aren’t able to engage in their work with the fluency they might otherwise have. “They’re not free to think about what’s the best way to do something,” Dr. Cruger explains. “Kids will start a task, try to get the task done, but not take the time to travel along and figure out how to do the task best.”
While the work might still get finished, multitasking adds up to shallower thinking and more time spent actually working. But it’s hard for kids to see it that way. “If you haven’t really established a disciplined routine for learning and thinking, it’s hard to have a sense of what to compare your current performance against,” notes Dr. Cruger.
Kids who struggle with attention
There’s a kind of myth that kids who have ADHD are uniquely suited to multitasking.
At a Child Mind Institute event about how children are affected by technology, Ali Wentworth, actress, comedian and host of the event, described how she found her teenage daughter the evening before: She was doing her homework on one screen, texting on another, with Gilmore Girls playing on a third. When Wentworth protested, her daughter told her, “I have ADHD. This is how I do my homework.”
In reality, multitasking during homework can be particularly difficult for kids who have ADHD.
“There’s pretty compelling literature that suggests that nobody is actually good at multitasking, but I think kids who have ADHD also have a set of cognitive distortions about their skills and capacities,” says Dr. Cruger. “They’re probably worse at multitasking than people without ADHD, but they often think they’re better at it.”
That might be because the constant stimulation offered by tech devices is very appealing to kids with ADHD. Short bursts of attention, with immediate rewards, are easier for them than paying sustained attention. But trying to do both at the same time — juggling homework and Snapchat — would be particularly difficult for them.
That’s because people with ADHD struggle with executive functions, which are the self-regulating skills we use to do things like shift between situations, control our emotions and impulsivity, and organize and make plans. These are all skills that are integral to doing homework and they are weakened further when we are dividing our attention across multiple platforms.
“One of the psychological impacts for people with ADHD is they have to make smart decisions about how to use their resources wisely because they have limited attentional resources and they have limited capacity to do the hard work of learning naturally,” explains Dr. Cruger. “It just takes more effort for them.”
Given that kids with ADHD are particularly susceptible to the stimulation that tech devices provide, and that focusing on homework is already harder for them, successfully doing both would be incredibly difficult.
Related: What Is Working Memory?
A distraction-free mind
Setting up a homework routine that minimizes distractions is important, especially if your child struggles with attention, or seems to be finding that her homework is taking much longer than it should.
Let her know that the goal is to make doing homework easier and less stressful. Removing those distractions should improve her homework experience and leave her with more actual free time.
If it’s difficult to get your child’s buy-in, establishing regular homework breaks where she gets to walk away from her homework and check social media or check her texts can make this an easier sell. But to be effective, the breaks should be planned and discrete — they shouldn’t bleed into homework time and ideally they should happen away from her study space, which should be a place for focusing.
This sort of discipline might not come naturally to kids or adults, but learning to unplug from distractions is a life skill that will become increasingly important as technology becomes more absorbing, and the need to learn and stay focused doesn’t go away.
Do Video Games Cause ADHD?
Strategies to Make Homework Go More Smoothly
How Using Social Media Affects Teenagers
- Was this article helpful?
- Yes No
Essay on Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa was a great lady and a Roman Catholic nun who has founded the Missionaries of Charity. She had won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her great works. We have provided essay on Mother Teresa for your school going kids and children. Let them know about this great woman through easy Mother Teresa essay given below.
Mother Teresa Essay 1 (100 words)
Mother Teresa was a great woman and famous as “one woman, one mission” who had taken a big step to change the world. She was born as Agnes Gnocchi Bojaxhin on 26th of August in 1910 in the Macedonia. She came to Kolkata when she was just 18 years old and continued her life’s mission of caring poorest people.
She had helped a lot to the poor people of Kolkata suffering from the leprosy. She made them sure that it is not a contagious disease and cannot be reached to another one. She helped them to build their own self supporting colony at Titagarh.
Mother Teresa Essay 2 (150 words)
Mother Teresa was a lady of great tenure who had spent her whole life in helping needy and poor people. She was born on 26th of August in 1910 in Macedonia. Her birth name was Agnes Gnocchi Bojaxhin. She was youngest child of the Nikola and Dronda Bojaxhiu. She was a lady with strong faith and trust in God and humanity. She had spent lots of time of her life in the church but she never thought that she would be a nun a day. Later she had joined Loreto sisters from Dublin where she got her name as Mother Teresa after the name of St. Teresa of Lisieuse.
She had completed her work in the Dublin and came to Kolkata, India where she spent her whole life in supporting the poor and needy people. She enjoyed 15 years of her life in teaching the geography and History and then started teaching in the Saint Marys School for girls. She worked hard to teach the poorest people in that area.
Mother Teresa Essay 3 (200 words)
Mother Teresa was a great and incredible woman. She was the person who shown this world a real religion of humanity. She was born in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia but she chose to help poor people of India. She was full of love, care, and sympathy for mankind. She always believed in God worked hard in helping people. She involved in solving social issues and health issues of the poor people. She was born in very strong family of Catholic faith and got strongness and strength in generation from her parents.
She was a much disciplined woman who seeked God by helping poor and needy people. Each of her life activity was revolve around God. She was very close to the God and never missed prayer. She believed that prayer is very essential part of her life and spent hours in prayer. She was very faithful to the God. She was not had lots of money but she had attention, confidence, trust and energy which helped her to gladly support poor people. She walked barefoot for long distance on the streets to look after poor people. Hard and continuous work tired her lot however she never gave up.
Mother Teresa Essay 4 (250 words)
Mother Teresa was a great woman who is always admired and respected by the people all over the world for her amazing works and achievements. She was a lady who had inspired lots of people to do impossible works in their lives. She would always be an inspiration to us. This world is full of good people having great humanitarians but everyone needs an inspiration to go ahead. Mother Teresa was unique one who always stands out from the crowd.
She was born on 26th of August in 1910 in the Skopje, Macedonia. She was name of Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu as her birth name but finally she got another name of Mother Teresa after her great works and life achievement. She had spent her whole life by caring poor and sick people as a real mother. She was the youngest one child of her parents. She was born in the highly religious Roman Catholics family. She was highly inspired about the charity from her parents who were always supported needy people in the society.
Her mother was a simple housewife however father was a merchant. The financial condition of her family got down after her father death because of the involvement in politics. In such condition, the church became very important for the live survival of her family. At her 18 she felt that there is a call for her towards religious life and then she joined the Loreto Sisters of Dublin. In this way she had started her religious life to help poor people.
Mother Teresa Essay 5 (300 words)
Mother Teresa was a very religious and famous woman who is also known as “Saint of the Gutters”. She is one the great personalities all over the world. She had represented her whole life in front of us as a true mother by providing kind services of full dedication and love to the needy and poor people of the Indian society. She is also popularly known as “saint of our times” or “angel” or “a beacon in the world of darkness”.
Her birth name was Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu who became later famous as the Mother Teresa after her great works and life achievements. She was born on 26th of August in 1910 Skopje, Macedonia in a religious catholic family. Mother Teresa was decided to become a nun in her early age. She had joined a convent in the year 1928 and then came to India (Darjeeling and then Kolkata).
Once, while she was returning from her visit, she was shocked and her heart was broken after seeing people’s sadness in a Kolkata slum. That event disturbed her mind a lot and made her various nights sleepless. She started thinking some ways to alleviate people suffering in the slum. She was well known of her social restrictions so she prayed to the God for getting some guidance and direction.
Finally she got a message (to leave convent and serve needy people) from the God on her way to Darjeeling on 10th of September in 1937. After that she never looked back and started serving to the poor people. She chose to wear a simple dress of white sari having blue border. Soon, young girls started joining her group in order to provide a kind help to the suffering people of the poor community. She planned to make a dedicated group of sisters which would be always ready for serving to poor in any condition. The group of dedicated sisters later known as “Missionaries of Charity”.
Mother Teresa Essay 6 (400 words)
Mother Teresa was a great personality who had spent her whole life in serving the poor people. She is well known all over the world for her great works. She would always be alive in our heart as she was the only one like a real mother. She is a great legend and highly recognizable symbol of the sympathy and care of our time. She liked to drape her in very simple white sari having blue border. She always understood herself a devoted servant of the God who had sent to the earth to serve the poor, disabled, and suffering people of slum society. She always had a kind smile on her face.
She was born on 26th of August in 1910 at Skopje, Republic of Macedonia and got her birth name by her parents as Agnes Gonxha Bajaxhin. She was the young child of her parents. Her family struggled a lot for the bad financial status after the death of her father in early age. She started helping her mother in charity works in the church. She was the woman of deep faith, confidence and trust over the God. She always praises God from the beginning of her life for everything she got and lost. She decided to be a dedicated nun in her early age and soon joined the Loreto order of nuns in the Ireland. In her later life she served for many years as a teacher in the education field in India.
She had started her life as a beginner at Loreto Novitiate, Darjeeling where she chose to learn English and Bengali (as an Indian language) that’s why she is also called as the Bengali Teresa. Again she returned to the Calcutta where she joined the St. Mary’s school as a teacher of Geography. Once, when she was on her way, she noticed the bad conditions of the people living in the Motijheel slum. She was sent a message from the God on her way to Darjeeling by train, to help the needy people. Soon, she left the convent and started helping poor of that slum. Even after being a European woman, she always wore a cheap white sari.
In the beginning of her teaching life, she just collected some poor children and started writing Bengali alphabets on the ground with sticks. Soon she was cheered up by some teachers for her great services and provided with a blackboard and a chair. Soon, the school become reality. Later, she founded a dispensary and a peaceful home where poor could die. For her great works, soon she became famous among poor.