The recently released book The Teenage Brain confirms that teenagers perform best when they do one thing at a time. Dr. Frances Jensen, a leading neuroscientist, offers some excellent advice on multitasking and other topics relevant to parents of teenagers.
Jensen notes that connectivity in the brain moves from back to front and that the frontal and pre-frontal lobes are the last places to connect. Consequently, even though teenagers have a heightened capacity to learn, other areas such as impulse control, insight, judgment and empathy take longer to develop. For this reason, Jensen advises parents to stay connected with teenagers and to ask good questions of them.
When it comes to doing homework, parents should have their children reflect on what needs to be done and in what order. Parents should also set limits as to how much time teenagers spend online, as they lack the judgment and impulse control to do so. As a way of illustrating this point, Jensen notes that the average teenager sends 3,300 texts per month and 1 in 5 interrupts his or her sleep to text.
Lastly, parents should remember that adolescent behavior is closely linked to the gratification associated with impulsivity. So, you will probably have to tell them more than once to put the cell phone away or shut off the TV while doing homework.