Bolton School Girls’ Division Newspaper


Is dual-screening a modern day disaster?

Have you ever found it hard to sit still through a TV show without looking at another screen? Like completing an assignment on your laptop, while you watch a show? Or have you ever struggled sitting through a movie without having the urge to scroll on your phone? You are not alone. With the increase in sophisticated devices and media as ever present features of our lives, this issue of divided attention has emerged as an unexpected side effect.

This has been coined as  ‘dual screening,’ but is also synonymous with ‘multi screening’ or ‘media multitasking’ which are also widely used. So, are you a dual screener?


The World of technology is constantly trying to find ways of securing your attention. Applications such as TikTok aim to satisfy the short attention span of children. Could this help to explain their growing popularity?

The success of TikTok has  influenced other social media platforms to use this short video format.  For example, YouTube shorts, Instagram shorts, and Spotlight on Snapchat. Although these social media platforms are benefiting from it, could it be encouraging people and children to be more likely to engage in dual-screening? As the trends of TikTok and Youtube shorts are becoming increasingly popular, are they actually influencing the development of  a younger generation’s attention span?

The reason specialists are flagging this as a cause for concern is due to their discovery that some people (mostly those  around 12-18) may only be able to give some of their attention to the activities they are doing and struggle to sustain their concentration over longer periods

This is a problem for many reasons: the main impact of dual-screening seems to be on the attention span. This can be seen in research from Ofcom, which  has found that children who engage in multi-screening avoid long-form of content and have shorter attention spans. One of the children states that ‘I can’t just sit and watch a film’ which honestly, I relate to as well.

Dual-screening has not only become a one-time thing, but a habit that presents focusing on one thing as very unappealing and boring. This child also states that she cannot focus more than 20 minutes on a film even in a cinema – this shows the incredibly short attention span even when doing an activity of their choice.

In the future, this could create a snowball effect and become a problem if students cannot concentrate in a school setting. Consequently, this could show up as a drastic change in the grades for students as they struggle not only with the demands of concentrating in lessons, but also with timed examinations.

Another study undertook research into how efficiently we really multitask.  Disappointingly, only 2.5% of people were shown to be able to genuinely multitask. This indicates that those who are ‘dual screening’ are most likely not completing tasks in a manner which really enables them to fully take in and process the information that they have just seen or heard. Children are often dual screening while doing homework; this can lead to a greater number of mistakes in the quality and accuracy of their work.


Researchers at Bristol and Loughborough Universities have also explored the physical and mental implications of this habit. They conclude that dual screening actually ‘increases the risk of obesity and mental health issues.’ Dual screening, being less productive, actually increases the time it takes a person to finish, for example, watching a TV show. Therefore, there is less time for children to take part in physical exercise, thus leading to a greater risk of obesity and poorer quality of mental health.

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So, overall, the aftereffects of dual screening seem a lot more harmful than many people give them credit for. In a world where technology is becoming a way of life experienced from our infancy it can be hard to avoid. However, being aware of this problem already gives us the upper hand on tackling it in the first place and will help us further understand the impact of our screen habits.

By Esther Tsui and Maria Tariq

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