Why Multitasking Is Bad For You And Your Kids

Multitasking Is Bad For You And Your Kids


Think about what your kids most like to do with the free time they’d get by effectively single-tasking homework. Sprinkle these benefits throughout your encouragement, explanations, and suggested strategies to stimulate their personal motivation to make the changes. You’ll inspire them in advance with the payoff earned when they reduce the brainpower drain of multitasking and finish their work more quickly and successfully.

Here are some desirable outcomes that may resonate with your kids as they escape the multitasking black-hole time drain.

  • Finish the work they have to do in less time
  • Enjoy more free time to do what they want to do
  • Relax by not feeling pressured, scattered and guilty
  • Get more sleep and not feel so dragged out each morning
  • Remember what they read and retain more out their homework. They will understand more in class and spend less time studying for tests
  • Live with a happier you (parent)

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Prove it!

Here’s an experiment that will empower your kids by their uncovering evidence to make better choices based on what they discover. They’ll get to evaluate the impact of each multitasking distraction and see for themselves the price they are paying.

A self-inventory will reveal the impact of multitasking on their free time. By keeping a record of time spent on homework for a few days and analyzing the outcome of the work they do with and without the multitasking activities, they’ll understand the high costs.

Below is the self-inventory I had my students do which motivated them to make the shift away from multitasking. You can “translate” the instructions so they are best suited for your child.

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1. “Make a list of all the multitasking things you like to add on  (potential distractions you have ‘on’) while you do your homework.” (Examples might be having the Internet or TV on, music on, responding to texts, calls, tweets, reading emails as they arrive, playing computer games, web surfing, talking with friends, or too frequent snack or TV breaks, or even angsting or just pleasantly daydreaming.)

2. “Select a subject in which homework assignments usually take about the same amount of time each night. If possible choose a class where the homework is often useful for understanding the next day’s class.” (Math homework can be a good choice or history assignments where a chapter read is discussed in class the next day.)

3. “For the subject you choose, go back to those things on your list that involves multitasking during your homework and designs a chart to collect data from your observations.”

The chart should be designed to keep records of the time and outcome of homework done on nights alternating, with and without each multitasking distraction. It will probably take eight to ten nights to gather the data, depending on how many multitasks are in their routine.

They can use a chart like the one below to keep a record of the information or create their own to include the following observation records:

Variable (what they are evaluating that evening e.g. television on or television off):+/-:  Doing it or not

  1. Homework start time:
  2. End time:
  3. Total time:
  4. Quality rating: the value of the homework e.g. Their teacher’s grade on the homework, their personal assessment of its quality, or how well they understood (or participated in) the next day’s class.
Dangers Of Multitasking

After gathering their data and looking back at the results they will no doubt find evidence of which multitasking distractions cause them to spend more time on homework with less benefit. You can ask them to describe their observations with questions such as:

What did you discover?

What multitask seemed to make your brain less efficient by switching your attention focus back and forth?

Now, from what you learned, which multitasks do you want to resist so you can complete your homework faster and more successfully?

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Dr. Judy Willis, a board-certified neurologist combined her 15 years as a practicing neurologist with ten subsequent years as a classroom teacher to become a leading authority in the neuroscience of learning. With her unique background as both in neuroscience and education, she has written seven books about applying neuroscience research to classroom teaching strategies.View Author posts