Celf Specialization: Parents’ activities at home, multitasking and attention in interaction, time use, language and social interaction
When parents return home from their workday they begin a ‘second shift,’ in which they do the work of taking care of their families. In the past, the majority of studies concerning parents’ activities and multitasking practices at home have employed survey questionnaires and time diary studies. In my current work on the everyday lives of families I analyze video recordings of naturally occurring interaction to not only quantify what activities parents are engaging in and how much time they spend doing them, but also to provide detailed qualitative analysis of how instances of multitasking occur by parents switching between tasks in the home. In addition, I am also analyzing parents interactional practices with others, particularly their children, during multitasking episodes. One key finding is that parents, especially mothers, multitask more in actual practice than is typically detailed in self-report studies. Also, by expanding the definition of multitasking to include serial activities as well as simultaneous activities we can obtain a more robust understanding of the way in which parents negotiate multiple tasks and bids for their attention.
I am also developing a model of human multitasking that takes into account temporality, activity, displayed focus of attention, and participation frameworks. The development of this model has also shed light on the importance of looking at ‘displayed attention’ in interaction and the moment-by-moment shifts in attention that occur. In this sense, I move away from the traditional practice of looking at attention as something lodged within the individual and instead look at attention as a phenomena embedded in larger social situations and situated activities.