Social Multitasking Can Impact Tweenage Development: Study

Stanford professors look at the impacts of using Facebook and trying to work at the same time.

By Sajid Farooq
|  Wednesday, Feb 1, 2012  |  Updated 3:15 AM EDT
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Multitasking Hurts Tween Brains: Stanford

As children grow, face-to-face communication grows more and more important.

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Being too digitally social can hurt the development of tweenage girls, according to a new Stanford University study.

The study by education professor Roy Pea and communications professor Clifford Nass found that for girls between the ages of 8 and 12, spending several hours a day watching videos and using social media can impact how successful they are with social and emotional development.

"The results were upsetting, disturbing, scary," Nass said.

The study surveyed 3,461 girls, ages eight to 12, about their electronic diversions and their social and emotional lives.

The girls were asked to track how much time they spent watching television and online videos, posting to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, instant messaging, video chatting, texting, doing homework and more.

They were also asked to track how often they engaged in two or more of those activities at the same time.

"The girls' answers showed that multitasking and spending many hours watching videos and using online communication were statistically associated with a series of negative experiences: feeling less social success, not feeling normal, having more friends whom parents perceive as bad influences and sleeping less," the study said.

Still, the professors said a definite cause-and-effect relationship was difficult to prove.

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