Multitasking: Why It’s Bad for You and Your Kids
Think multitasking is helping your family? A pediatrician explains why it has negative effects.
As a parent, you may not realize that you’re multitasking when you juggle kids, career, chores and friendships.
Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
But you are — and you’re not the only one. Technology has made it easier for kids to multitask too.
This can affect both kids and parents negatively, says pediatrician Deb Lonzer, MD.
In this fast-paced world, multitasking may seem like the most efficient way to get everything done. But Dr. Lonzer would disagree.
She says multitasking represents a problem rather than a solution because:
“Break down tasks, or you’ll become the jack-of-all trades but the master of none,” she notes.
Kids make better choices and prioritize tasks more successfully when they tackle one at a time, says Dr. Lonzer. But multitasking does more than affect kids’ productivity — it affects their brains, too.
Multitasking makes it hard for the still-developing brain to:
“Kids are not little adults,” cautions Dr. Lonzer.
As harmful as multitasking can be for the brain, it also takes a toll on family relationships. Kids or parents who are constantly plugged in to cell phones, iPods or video games aren’t interacting with the family in meaningful ways.
“Kids who spend less time interacting with their parents learn less by example. They don’t get to see how adults actually behave,” says Dr. Lonzer.
Technological multitasking also increases generational boundaries. “It becomes difficult for parents and children to feel like they are part of the team that is the family,” says Dr. Lonzer.
That sense of belonging is essential for a child’s development. Kids need to feel like they are part of a unit before they begin to discover how they fit into the world at large.
“Multitasking is here to stay,” admits Dr. Lonzer. But she says you can lessen its impact on your family, even for a few minutes a day, in three ways:
Although life rarely slows down, Dr. Lonzer suggests setting appropriate limits with our to-do lists. “We’ll all continue to multitask, but try and be reasonable about it, and use common sense,” she says.