Distractions, distractions: does instant messaging affect college students' performance on a concurrent reading comprehension task?

Cyberpsychol Behav. 2009 Feb;12(1):51-3. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2008.0107.

Abstract

Instant messaging (IM) has become one of the most popular forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC) and is especially prevalent on college campuses. Previous research suggests that IM users often multitask while conversing online. To date, no one has yet examined the cognitive effect of concurrent IM use. Participants in the present study (N = 69) completed a reading comprehension task uninterrupted or while concurrently holding an IM conversation. Participants who IMed while performing the reading task took significantly longer to complete the task, indicating that concurrent IM use negatively affects efficiency. Concurrent IM use did not affect reading comprehension scores. Additional analyses revealed that the more time participants reported spending on IM, the lower their reading comprehension scores. Finally, we found that the more time participants reported spending on IM, the lower their self-reported GPA. Implications and future directions are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Attention*
  • Communication*
  • Comprehension*
  • Computer Communication Networks
  • Field Dependence-Independence*
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Reading
  • Students / psychology