British researchers found that students sending and receiving instant messages while completing assignments take longer but still understand what they are reading. In controlled experiments, the researchers found that students im-ing took roughly 50 percent more time to complete reading assignments but still performed the same on tests checking comprehension.
These results go against previously held notions that electronic media distractions negatively affect students’ performance. This study builds on the researchers’ previous study that found students who heavily used electronic media were more likely to become distracted while reading than avid book readers. The study will be presented in the 2008 annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.