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Paper vs. Screen


A young child and parent using a tablet

As technology advances, the way we do things changes. From communicating with friends and purchasing products, to doing research and sharing information, many of our day to day activities now involve screens.

But one of the most interesting changes (at least for us), is how people read. Books and magazines are being traded in for Kindles and cell phones, leaving many curious about how the change from paper to screen reading is affecting us. And the interesting thing is, it IS affecting us.

An article on PRI suggests that our brains process digital reading differently than reading from the pages of a novel or newspaper. The more we read from screens, the more we train our brains to jump around as we scroll or flip to different pages online. This is called “non-linear” reading, “a practice that involves things like skimming a screen or having your eyes dart around a web page.” Researchers suggest that reading from our laptop or Kindle doesn’t allow for “deep reading”, a “concentrated kind” of reading that “uses the kind of long-established linear reading you don’t typically do on a computer.”

So what does this all mean for learning? It means we need to shut off the screens! While tech makes finding information and taking notes easier, it doesn’t mean the information is being retained as well as if we were actively engaging our brains as we accessed it. Studies have shown that our brains actually process and store information better offline. So when it comes to studying, that means reading from paper, not screens, and writing out study notes instead of typing them.

Do you prefer an e-reader or an old-fashioned book when reading?

Read more:
…on active thinking
…on technology and learning
…on studying effectively

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