Closing the Book on Digital Texts for College Kids

It’s always good to hear from the source; and in the debate of print versus digital books, one source is current college students.

“Nowadays, the majority of smartphone users are easily distracted because while they read digitally, they may get a text message or social media notifications,” writes Nataly Gutierrez, staff writer for The Skyline View. “Whereas, when physical print is read, distraction is less likely to happen.”

This distraction factor is a real challenge for students and probably explains why so many college students prefer printed textbooks over e-books.

Gutierrez cites several studies, including one from Pew Research Center, that shows this preference may be an extension of their parents’ preferences and behaviors.

“I’m reading a book on a tablet and my children don’t know if I’m reading a book or if I’m playing on Twitter,” said Larry Zickuhr in the Pew Research article.

“So I think it’s important to have the book so that they go, Oh, ‘Dad’s reading,’ not just; ‘Oh he’s updating his Facebook page,’” said Zickuhr. “I think there is like a difference in that.”

Why should parents care, and want to pass this on to their kids?

“Parents remember their childhood of going to the library when they were little kids and having the pleasure of reading print books, and they want their children to experience the same thing,” Gutierrez explains.

While the pleasurable experience is important, there are also significant health benefits and educational benefits to choosing print over digital books. As Gutierrez notes, the blue light from electronic devices can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, something that’s absolutely critical for solid academic performance.

For parents, there’s a takeaway here: Even when your child has her head buried in her phone, she is picking up behavioral cues from you. She knows when you’re reading a book – and she just might follow your lead.

For all of us, the benefits and pleasures of reading print books are compelling. Make some time for books in your life.