Honors Theses


Kaitlyn May


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Bachelor of Science (B.S.)


Educational Psychology

Document Type

Honors Thesis


With the rapid expansion of media use by children and adults, media multitasking (engaging in more than one media activity at a time) has rapidly become a lifestyle for American youth (Roberts, Foehr, & Rideout, 2005). The aim of this systematic review is to examine the cognitive and socio-emotional impacts of media multitasking (MMT). This review analyzed 59 articles from 2006 to 2016 that investigated MMT across a range of ages, including pre-adolescents to adults, although primarily focused on college-aged students. Concerning academic and cognitive skills, media multitasking is detrimental to the learning of both those multitasking and other classroom peers in the vicinity. In-class multitasking is negatively associated with grades, note taking, test performance, and self-regulation, and is not buffered by achievement level (Fried, 2006); Zhang, 2015). In terms of socio-emotional well-being, media multitasking has mixed effects dependent upon medium and context. Research on tweens using technology points to multiple negative socio-emotional outcomes with respect to usage, including psychological distress, diminished sleep, and higher levels of social stress (Pea et al., 2012). SImilarly, college females demonstrated more maladaptive behavior with respect to mobile phone use (i.e., deterioration of family and social relationships, reduction of activities, tendency to evade problems; Beranuy et al., 2009). Still, tweens reported some positive social feelings: media multitasking was associated with a greater orientation to finding positive feelings from friends. Overall, constant multitasking has multiple cognitive and socio-emotional effects for students, such as (a) high ratings of distractibility, (b) negative impact on academic performance, (c) decreased speed when performing academic tasks, (d) psychological distress, (e) greater levels of social stress.

Publication Date


First Advisor

Elder, Anastasia

Second Advisor

Moss, Jarrod

Third Advisor

Anderson, Thomas