Theoretical Foundations for the Study of Media Multitasking among Lagos Mall Users

Jennifer Ekene Onochie 1 * , Koblowe Obono 2

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This paper seeks to provide a theoretical approach to the study of media multitasking. The aim of the study is achieved by examining the Information Processing Theory (IPT) and the Niche Media Theory (NMT) to show how their propositions guide the study of media multitasking among Lagos mall users. Therefore, using unobtrusive observations, in-depth interviews, and survey, smartphone use during face-to-face interactions among Lagos mall users was examined based on the proposition of the IPT that humans have limited cognitive resources, and if more resources are directed towards one information processing task, another task will be performed badly. Some researchers believe that this may not always be the case as skills are capable of aiding multitasking. However, guided by the proposition of the NMT, this paper argues that even though skills aid multitasking, there are certain implications for not just the people involved but also the forms of communication used during media multitasking. Findings, to an extent, support IPT’s proposition as there was a decline in interaction quality. However, there was an interesting twist to the NMT’s proposition on overlap. Mall users who perceived face-to-face interactions to be more superior were more likely to replace face-to-face interactions with smartphone communication.


media multitasking smartphone use face-to-face interactions niche media theory information processing theory mall


This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Research Article

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 9, Issue 2, April 2019, Article No: e201912

Published Online: 08 May 2019

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