MEDIA MULTITASKING – GIVE ME YOUR ATTENTION.

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Photo above is my own photography.

All names and data used about Chelsea were used with permission from her to appear on this blog. 

While I was trying to understand this weeks topic, it occurred to me that I was probably doing the exact thing mentioned as I scroll through Twitter on my phone, occasionally avert my attention back to my television screen while I try and catch up on The Walking Dead before the month is up, and even less occasionally refer back to my laptop to watch the lecture. According to Neilson reports done in 2013, most television viewers around the world interact online through their phones while watching television – as it ‘increases enjoyment.’ Similarly, this is what I do when I’m trying to catch up with class content and watch the lectures online after class, scanning through the tweets from other students about the previous lecture as I re-watch. I don’t particularly find doing this enjoyable, however that fact could be because it is homework, and not announcing my shock at The Bachelor finale reveal on Twitter as it happens.

Why do we find media multitasking enjoyable? Why is media-multitasking even encouraged in University lectures? With most of the introductory lectures I’ve experienced studying Media and Communications, I’ve noticed a trend of the lecturer announcing a hash tag we can share our thoughts about the lecture through, during said lecture. (Wallis, 2010) I found this interesting, because in high school any form of technology when we were supposed to be paying our attention to the teacher was ‘frowned’ upon. This begs me to question whether it is because I am studying a media degree that this has become such a norm for myself, so much so that I immediately retreat to Twitter for any concerns with my classes before emailing anyone – or whether technology has literally just taken over educational institutions that quickly and it’s not just my degree.

During my process of understanding the meaning of ‘attention economy’, I reached out to my friend Chelsea. I immediately thought of her when considering what to do for this attention span task, because she once asked me what my Twitter account was, confused – I gave her my account and proceeded to tell her that I only use it for University purposes. To which she told me, so was she. She studies law, which was why I was initially confused as to why she needed to incorporate Twitter into her studies. I had preconceived ideas in mind that Law was mostly a textbook subject while mine was online, so it was interesting to look to her Twitter to see the posts she was writing and how they were different and similar to those I was writing. Something I often do when I catch up with her, is sit on our phones, and it’s been this way for as long as I can remember. Now, I’m more likely to want to escape my phone as often as I can, because it reminds me of the assignments I’m procrastinating every time I log onto Twitter or Facebook and see other students talking about said assignment. (Mollett, Moran and Dunleavy, 2011)

I decided to take a mini test on my attention capacity, by first writing down all the things that avert my attention from what I’m supposed to be doing (homework.) I then took the notes I’d written and asked my friend Chelsea If she experienced any of the same things, as I was curious to see if a student doing a different degree to me had any of the same issues regarding attention. My first concern was how I often space myself away from my phone and avoid my laptop for days because I know I will feel guilty for not doing what I’m supposed to do if I log onto Twitter in search of my favourite shows details or if I log onto Facebook and see people asking about how many words need to be in the latest assignment when I really just want to look at the memes. I then messaged Chelsea and asked her if she did anything similar, and while she said she didn’t avoid her actual phone or laptop – she did the best she could to avoid the groups talking about schoolwork and Twitter which she is also encouraged to post on. I found this interesting, because it made me realise that there are two different online spheres we can participate in now instead of just the one: social media for school, and social media for enjoyment. (Briggs, 2016)

Allison Brenner has suggested that traditional homework excuses no longer work when homework and assignments are to be submitted online. Excuses such as, “I lost my homework,” or, “I was absent when homework was given” are no longer appropriate as University assignments are mostly online-based. (Brenner, 2016) This idea prompted my next question regarding attention economy. I asked Chelsea if she found it harder to find excuses not to complete her online assignments as opposed to if it was paperwork, to which she said that she still managed to find excuses regardless but she does think that it’s harder. For me, it’s the opposite. I prefer to have the work done on paper so I can separate my schoolwork from my social media accounts as other, more interesting tasks I have to complete online too easily distract me.

 

REFERENCES:

Brenner, A. (2016). Homework Excuses that don’t work online – James Madison High School. [online] Jmhs.com. Available at: https://www.jmhs.com/student-life/blog/item/homework-excuses-that-dont-work-online/ [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Mollett, A., Moran, D. and Dunleavy, P. (2011). Using Twitter for University research, teaching and impact activities.. [online] http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/. Available at: http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/files/2011/11/Published-Twitter_Guide_Sept_2011.pdf [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Briggs, S. (2016). The Psychology of Social Media: Can We Leverage It For Learning? – InformED. [online] InformED. Available at: http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/the-psychology-of-social-media/ [Accessed 1 Oct. 2016].

Wallis, C. (2010). The impacts of on children’s learning & development media multitasking. [online] New York: The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, pp.3-36. Available at: http://multitasking.stanford.edu/MM_FinalReport_030510.pdf [Accessed 1 Oct. 2016].

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