Online Instant Messaging

Research Question

The development of technology has brought convenience in the society but it has also brought out new problems like multitasking. The use of laptops by college students in note taking and doing homework is common nowadays makingit easy for students to multitask, for instance, instantly messaging other people while doing academic work. Research has proven that multitasking is defective since it decreases a student’s ability to focus on a single activity that requires more attention. Should students stop multitasking when they are reading books or doing academic work?

According to Levine, Waite & Bowman, (2007), media multitasking is increasing as compared to a decrease in single tasking. They believe that Instant Messaging causes interruptions and prevents students from focusing on academic work. Instant Messaging can cause deviation of sailors in missile control and make teens pay less attention to homework. Students who are fifteen years old find it hard to concentrate than those who are ten years old. Researchers have not been thorough in researching about how media usage relates to students focus on academic tasks. This article seeks to find out how instant messaging disrupts students.


Levine, Waite & Bowman, (2007) hypothesized that the longer usage of Instant Messaging will cause less concentration on academic works. Teenagers between the ages of fifteen to eighteen spend on average twenty-seven minutes doing Instant Messaging, which is the second longest time for computer activities. The total media usage time cannot increase, so multitasking is necessary for college students to save time.


During this research, a sample of 46 male students and 115 female students was used to complete the research. A questioner containing fifty-five questions was created for the students to complete. The authors were looking to examine three things. The first one was the Instant Messaging percentage in the overall media usage. Students were required to write the time they spend on activities including Internet, Instant Messaging, TV, gaming, and music (Levine, Waite & Bowman, 2007). In addition, they had to list the time they spend on different reading activities including leisure reading, magazine, and newspaper.

The second thing the authors wanted to examine was what is instant messaging and how it is being used. Participants were required to note how often the Instant Messaging software is on when their computers are on. They also neededto indicate how many people they talk to using Instant Messaging and how soon they respond to Instant messages. The third issue was how Instant Messaging creates interruptions in academic work. The participants were required to indicate using a rating scale of one to five the extent at which Instant Messaging distracts academic work (Levine, Waite & Bowman, 2007). The scale was from agree to strongly disagree.


In the analysis of the extent at which Instant Messaging distracts academic work, four out of seven components were used from the data to calculate the results. One of the four items, which is no distractions when doing the assigned readings, is negative. All other three items are positive. Since the male students played, more computer games than the female students the gender difference data was collapsed for further analysis (Levine, Waite & Bowman, 2007).

The analysis of media usage by young people revealed that Instant Messaging takes seventy-seven percent of Internet usagesurpassing emailing which was seventy-four percent. However, use of internet for research had the highest percentage of seventy-nine. By using Pearson correlations, the result showed that the students who respond to the Instant Messages quickly are easily distracted. Distraction was seen to be negatively correlated with academic readings including newspapers and novels, and positively correlated with usage of Instant Message.


Levine, Waite & Bowman, (2007) proved the hypothesis that spending timeInstant Messaging is greatly related to academic work distraction among the college youth. Instant Messaging can affect academics in three ways. First, it will decrease the study time. Around ninety-percent reported that the average time of using Instant Message is seventy-five minutes, meaning they spend less time on other activities especially academic work. Secondly, it distracts students from concentrating. According to the results, more than sixty-percent of the participantsrespond to three or four people on the Instant message immediately when they get a message. Thirdly, it changes the way the students think and perform tasks, which is more superficial.

Students who watch more television at home are less active in class. Watching much television negatively affects early age children when they get older (Levine, Waite & Bowman, 2007). With all the convenience technology has brought to the human kind, we have to be aware that it has a negative affect people especially teenagers. With the increasing adaptation of multitasking by the youth, the question is whether the same youth will have difficulties adapting to the traditional ways of learning through reading books and articles. The usage of these traditional modes diminished at a high with the introduction of the internet.




Levine, L. E., Waite, B. M., & Bowman, L. L. (2007). Electronic media use, reading, and academic distractibility in college youth. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 10(4), 560-566.

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