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Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Our kids are multitaskers

As if we didn't know it. "Kids are listening to music while watching television while wirelessly surfing the Net while instant messaging. And then the cell phone will ring," reports the Chicago Tribune. Children think they're getting more accomplished in a shorter time, and parents worry that not one of these multiple tasks is being done well. But what's new in this report is the suggestion that "maybe we are slowly wiring future generations in a new way.... Maybe we're turning ourselves into what our newest cell phones are: portable units capable of communicating in multiple formats." The Trib's not kidding. There's research saying that our children are IM-ing more than they're using email and that instant messaging has gained a major foothold in the workplace, where our kids will eventually be doing a lot of their communicating. So today's multitasking teens just may be getting good training for tomorrow's professional environment. Another way to thinking about all the time our kids are spending with IMs; at least, it's realistic to consider that nothing about technology is either wholly negative or entirely positive. In a sobering endnote, the Trib points to the digital-divide problem: the future for kids who don't have everyday access to this technology right now.

BTW, we'd love to get comments (and policies!) about IM-ing kids at your house - send them to me at


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