Media multitasking has presented us with some really interesting ways to engage with numerous platforms at the same time. Need only check out my Introduction V.2 post to show how I genuinely enjoy my time watching the Television. With another screen in the way.
However, this type of media viewing is not unnatural to us anymore. In fact a lot of shows, in particular reality shows, use this ability to incorporate a wider viewership and sense of community in their show. The graphic to the right acknowledges this change as more and more tech savvy teenagers enter into a space where their ability to consume media bi fold is unprecedented. Yet, is it particularly helpful to be consuming media in this way?
A team from the University College London Interaction Centre study into “Working With The Television On: An Investigation into Media Multitasking” looked to show the connection between media multitasking and whether this could be engaged with in terms of undertaking a stressful job situation. While the study, undertaken by researchers with a high interest on the development of our human condition with multimedia screens, shows mostly negative results, I’d argue that they are mostly false negatives.
Overall though the results of this preliminary study suggest that if people want to relax and become engrossed in a television show they should avoid working on a secondary device at the same time. I’d argue however, that they don’t (at the very least I don’t). Or if they do, their phone becomes less of a distraction and more of a contributor to the narrative of whatever they are watching. This is actually something that the study acknowledges in the limitations of their study and suggested that further studies in this area would create interesting dialogue.
I’d also say that the demography of the participants could also factor into an inability to be strong at multitasking. Due to media multitasking being quite a recent phenomena I would’ve liked to have seen younger people, from outside of the University pool take the test.
The nature of the task I would also say raised issues amongst the participants. Mathematical problems although quite stressful (I couldn’t work out the example they gave) don’t really give the nature of what people will be doing whilst watching television. The researchers also point to this and suggest that lighter duties would more realistically be undertaken whilst watching. I’d agree with this part and say that this is the kinds of things I’m undertaking whilst engaging with the content. Bills, online shopping and
writing university blog posts, all of which require minimal effort.
This type of multimedia use is especially significant when we think about it spatially. Predominately this kind of multitasking is done in private, mostly because the media use is off a duel nature, i.e. you’re less inclined to go into a public space and watch a television show on your laptop and be on your phone. Where as in a public space your multitasking media experience may be less self directed and more implied by the environment, e.g. at the doctors on your phone, while there is a screen in the waiting room.