Multitasking as a Collaborative System: Examining the Millennial Generation

Investigators: Gloria MarkMark Warschauer, and Stephanie Reich

Funding: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Duration: September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2015

This study uses a mixed-methods approach involving ethnographic techniques, sensors, and diaries to collect detailed activity on how “Millennial” college students, having grown up with the Internet, multitask with digital media in their daily lives.  Whereas most investigations have approached multitasking as an individual activity, this research will instead take a new perspective on multitasking as a collaborative social system. This study will examine whether connectivity leads to information overload and distraction; how online media experience affects learning, communication, and behavior offline; and the relationship between degree of connectivity and academic performance. The results can contribute to an understanding of how young adults use digital media, inform the design of requirements for future technologies, and be used for the design of media literacy programs in K-12 schools.