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Multitasking may harm the social and emotional development of tweenage girls, say researchers

Roy Pea has found a correlation between media diversions and diminished social and emotional skills among girls 8 to 12 years old.

Photo of Roy Pea.

Too much screen time can be detrimental to girls 8 to 12 years old, but there is a surprisingly straightforward alternative for greater social wellness.

By Dan Stober

Tweenage girls who spend endless hours watching videos and media multitasking with digital devices tend to be less successful with social and emotional development, according to Stanford researchers.

But these unwanted effects might be warded off with something as simple as face-to-face conversations with other people.

The researchers, headed by education professor Roy Pea and Clifford Nass, a professor of communication, surveyed 3,461 girls, ages 8 to 12, about their electronic diversions and their social and emotional lives. "The results were upsetting, disturbing, scary," Nass said.

The girls, all subscribers to Discovery Girls magazine, took the survey online, detailing the time they spent watching video (television, YouTube, movies,) listening to music, reading, doing homework, emailing, posting to Facebook or MySpace, texting, instant messaging, talking on the phone and video chatting – as well as how often they were doing two or more of those activities simultaneously.

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