I recently watched a Frontline Documentary called Digital_Nation (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/). The first chapter discusses how students at MIT (and all around the world) multitask all day long. The MIT students that were interviewed do not believe that multitasking affects their performance, however their professors do. I completely agree with the professors. A student that is playing on their computer, texting, and taking notes, will not do as well as the student whose sole focus is on taking notes.
The question becomes how do we get students to focus on one task at a time? and honestly, I have no clue. In the younger grades the students may actually still be able to focus on one task, but once students reach middle and high school they have become so used to multitasking that they will want to look at their phones, play games, text, etc. all while working on schoolwork. Even if the students don’t peek at their phones during class, they most likely will at home while completing the homework. I know from experience that when I have facebook up, and am texting while working on homework, it adds another hour of time spent “working” on the assignment. Some students may not be effected as badly, but I know that, like me, many are. When I really need to get an assignment done I put my phone out of reach and use my best self control to keep the websites educational.
I don’t think an educator can force a child to focus on one thing alone. It really has to come from within the student. They have to make a conscious decision to put the distractions away. I hope that people around the world wake up and realize that multitasking is not the best way to get thing done.