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Something?s Gotta Give

Mom is in the kitchen loading the dishwasher and talking to a colleague from work on the cell phone while intermittently checking her Blackberry-she’s also trying to make a decision about what color to paint the den and half-listening to Dad as he grouses about the day’s events.

Upstairs the kids are simultaneously watching TV, instant-messaging friends, downloading music and doing their homework-a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington suggests that kids have increased their media multi-tasking from 16 per cent in 1999 to 26 per cent.

If you feel as if you’re operating in a perpetual state of overdrive-it’s probably because you are. The pre-frontal cortex or executive part of the brain shoulders much of the burden imposed by multi-tasking even as the rest of you pumps out a flood of stress hormones in response-researchers think that the resulting strain of doing many things at once is taking its toll on our minds, our bodies and our social interactions.

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