While most of us like to believe we’re accomplished multitaskers who can watch TV, tweet, text, and make an omelette all while producing great work, science is always trying to tell us we’re actually underperforming. (Why do we keep inviting Science to the party again?)
Well, two brilliant teenagers in Portland, Oregon, have a research paper that might help put arguments against multitasking to rest. Sarayu Caulfield and Alexandra Ulmer surveyed 403 high-school students and found that some teenagers, about 15 percent of subjects, perform better while working with distraction — e.g., listening to music, texting, tweeting, or emailing — than they do while focusing on a single activity, reports The Wall Street Journal.
“What our research is suggesting is that maybe our brains as adolescents and digital natives have adapted to this media influence and because we’ve grown up with it we’re able to cope with all these different stimuli,” said 18-year-old Alexandra Ulmer.
Their study took second place at the annual American Academy of Pediatrics Poster contest and conveniently justified all the behaviors lame adults keep trying to shut down. Sorry, Mom, Dad, Teacher, Boss: Dictates like “turn off that TV until after your deadline” or “No Twitter until you’re done studying” are powerless in the face of a well-researched, award-winning study.