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What You Said: Are You A Second Screen Multi-Tasker?

Earlier this week we asked you if you used a second screen while watching television or movies–such as a smartphone or tablet. Now we’re back to highlight how HTG readers are engaging (or disengaging) with their mobile devices.

Image courtesy of Umani, a TV-companion application for iPad.

By far and away the biggest trend was the use of the second screen as a filler for commercials and/or and outright diversion from lackluster programming. Jack in TN writes:

Yes. I keep a laptop going 7×24 pretty much, and TV in going normally.

Pretty much my ‘throne’ in the family room. I have almost always multi-tasked, before laptop it was a book or magazine or 3 at my side. My wife has accused me of using TV as a radio more than once, and I can’t say she is wrong.

These days most of the multitasking is looking up references from the show, re-checking email, checking up on broadcast advertisements or things like new ‘Gibbs Rules’, and so forth, or questions from wife, or the most recent misquotes or half truth’s from both sides of the political isle, both foreign and domestic.

While Jack’s wife accuses him of using the TV like a radio for background noise, imanoldgoat fondly recalls the days when a radio was the only background noise around and how he still uses television and video in a similar fashion:

Hey, Im an old goat- remember having NO TV, and listening to the radio while doing homework. With TV, a fantastic 8″ B & W 20 pound “Portable” ( no remote ), did college work, watched TV, and listened to music (yes, on a record player with 33 rpm records- change ‘em every 18 minutes). Still do it, but a might slower. Now listen to audio/ video on one computer, work on a second computer. Fun. Baa!

While many readers use their second screen as a distraction, TallPaul highlights a rather neat way to use your second screen to interact with the show you’re watching and other viewers:

If I’m not too bothered about the TV show and it is more background noise, then yes, but as I have a triple monitor setup and watch TV on one of them then its not really a big deal. If, however, it is a new episode of a show I like or I’m watching a movie, then pretty much full concentration is on that unless some one texts me or rings me.

With Breaking Bad and possibly other American TV shows (I live in the UK so don’t get this unfortunately) they have something called Story Sync, designed to give live polls, trivia, etc on your smartphone/tablet whilst watching the episode.

Although thinking about it, there is a British TV show called the Million Pound Drop, where you are encouraged to play along online.

For more insight into how your fellow readers are interacting with the second screen, hit up the full comment thread here.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/14/12

Comments (5)

  1. Marcel

    I sometimes use the PiP on my bigscreen TV with the little picture being a TV show and the big picture being my current programming project in VS.

  2. bubbatie1

    Tv and comp and smart phone. Im a triple tasker! !!

  3. Little John

    I listen to radio, watch TV, read emails, and surf the net all at same time. Yes, I can tell you what the baseball/football score and who playing, who on TV set, last joke from the emails, and best buy from eBay. I have dual screens on computer, one open to emails and other open to the web.

  4. TheProudNoob

    I have a 120Hz gaming/main monitor, and a 1080p 60Hz monitor I use to hook up my PS3, show album art on VLC music player, and watch full screen YouTube videos.

  5. Berniee2000

    My husband and I have an agreement..whoever is on the computer hands the control of the TV remote to the other person. Since I am on the computer most of the time when I come home…he has control of the TV but there are some shows that I really enjoy which he puts on and we both watch (while I also play games on Facebook).

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