Guarded Play: Multi-Tasking in Parent-Child Interactions

Box, Catherine DiFelice

This brief analysis utilizes a CA perspective to deepen our understanding of the ways in which participants in interactions are able to handle more than one activity simultaneously. Many of the studies on multi-tasking, as Good (2009) noted, address this from a cognitive science perspective (e.g. Salvucci, 2005; Salvucci, Taatgen, & Kushleyeva, 2006), focusing on the brain’s ability to attend to several tasks at once. According to this work, we humans do a less than stellar job at balancing more than one thing at a time. In fact, with each task we add to the mix, our performance suffers that much more. As a social scientist, I find these conclusions enlightening and worthy of further study. As a mother, I chuckle, because even as I write this, my ear is bent to my daughter doing homework and the dinner that is on the stove, and I have gotten up from my workstation twice to wipe the bedroom wall clean of all traces of marker from my son’s dirty hands. Since at the end of the day, every member of my family is fed, cleaned, and accounted for, I proclaim that I do my job successfully. Thus, I agree wholeheartedly with the argument (Good, 2009) that by looking at the social action of multi-tasking as it happens in real time, as it happens so many nights in the lives of families, we might complicate the notion that it is something that humans simply cannot do well.


Also Published In

Working Papers in TESOL & Applied Linguistics

More About This Work

Academic Units
Applied Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
Published Here
November 6, 2015