I hated multi-screening…until I started watching Game of Thrones

Multitasking is officially bad for you but sometimes it's a coping mechanism, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

I’m the kind of person – some would say annoying person – who rewinds a film to the start if I think you’ve missed an important bit. I’ll get fidgety if you talk, get up, make a cup of tea or go to the loo. I think if you’re watching TV, you should just be doing that, nothing more.


I have grown up with the internet, smart phones and social media (I won’t deny using emojis or taking pictures of my dinner) but I’m not a fan of multi-screening, either.

My boyfriend is. He never just watches telly. He’ll balance an iPad on one knee and some work on the other, all while playing viral videos from his Facebook feed on his phone. He’ll also take calls or just inexplicably wander off midway through something he desperately wanted to watch.

He’s not alone: a recent study found that 51% of us multitask every or almost every time we watch TV. That doesn’t make it any less irritating to the 49% tut-tutting next to them, especially when you’re introducing someone to your new favourite show. It’s like organising a dinner party where half your guests just sit there at the table on their phones. Excuse me, but Olivia Pope is talking to you. It’s just rude.

And, my and Olivia’s feelings aside, multitasking is officially bad for you. Being able to multitask doesn’t mean your brain is better, bigger or faster, as my boyfriend would have you believe. I could never do my homework in front of the TV – despite loudly insisting to my parents that I could – because our brains can only focus properly on one thing at a time. Another recent study carried out by the University of London found that multitasking significantly lowers your IQ, and there are even theories that never giving anything your full attention can physically, perhaps permanently, damage your brain.

But I have, after years of protesting, discovered one exception to my multitasking rule: Game of Thrones.

I’ve found it impossible to watch season five properly. While beloved characters are burning, crying and dying on screen, I’ve started painting my toenails or flicking through Instagram. I think it’s my mind’s way of coping. When watching shocking, upsetting or grotesque scenes, a little multitasking can save you from a lot of distress. 


That’s not why my boyfriend does it though, so he’s still not off the hook…

Cancel on your friends, lie to your boyfriend… do whatever it takes to keep up with event TV

Watching TV on demand is a lonely business