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Teaching Kids How to Handle Distraction and Multitasking Online

Training children to handle these challenges while studying online will help them become strong internet citizens in the future.

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With many teachers moving toward online collaboration and some schools using internet-dependent laptops for students’ schoolwork, the amount of time our children need to be online is only likely to increase. Which means we need to train them to handle the challenges of an internet workspace. In particular, the challenge of distractions and multitasking. Here are some tips:

Take Breaks

One method for handling the distraction inherent in an online environment is to have your child schedule breaks. Suggest that she work on one assignment for a set time, maybe fifteen minutes. Knowing the duration eases the pressure of having to focus. When time is up, she can enjoy a break by messaging a friend or watching a short video. Or even better, break offline by taking the dog for a short walk.

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With group projects or a collaborative environment, it can be especially challenging to stay focused. But that same collaboration can offer accountability. When your child needs focused time away from the group for a different task—such as finishing a reading assignment—suggest he announce his departure and its purpose to the group. “I’m signing off for 20 minutes to finish my history reading.” Knowing the group will be expecting a report on his progress acts as an incentive to complete what he said he would.

Limit Tasks

The word “multitasking” originated in computer science to describe a machine running more than one process at a time. While humans can perform more than one activity at a time, researchers have found that our effectiveness at any one task drops when we add another alongside it. For this reason, it’s important to coach your child on limiting the number of pursuits she undertakes at a time.

Turn Off Pop-ups

Have your child turn off notifications and pop-ups while working on a project. Train him to take out only what he needs at the moment and open just the applications required for the task at hand. For teens writing papers and lab reports, show them how to utilize “distraction-free” modes found in some programs.

Training children to handle these challenges will help them become strong internet citizens in the future.

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