Effects of WhatsApp's Use on Working Memory Performance Among Youth

Noa Aharony, Avi Zion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The current study seeks to shed light on the usage habits of the WhatsApp application among teenagers, exploring the effect of mobile instant messaging distractions on pupils' working memory performance. Research was conducted in Israel during 2016 school year. The study sample was divided into two groups randomly—a control group and an experimental group. Researchers used six questionnaires to gather personal details, execution assessment questionnaire, and Working Memory Index from the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-IV. The main findings show that WhatsApp's distractions, transmitted via smartphones, decrease pupils' performance of working memory. In addition, students are aware of the difficulty WhatsApp causes while performing a learning task and of the decrease in learning effectiveness. The present study displays a unique experiment that explored the direct effect of the distractions stemming from a new technological platform—WhatsApp—on young pupils' working memory. Further, it suggests that instructors and teachers should be aware of the potential damage of multitasking caused by smartphone use during learning tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-245
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Educational Computing Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • WhatsApp
  • cognitive load
  • exploratory study
  • mobile technology
  • working memory


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