Real Science on Paper versus Screens

Feeling drained after reading on a digital screen? It might not be a lack of caffeine, but an actual physical reaction in your brain.

scienamerAs Ferris Jabr notes in Scientific American, “evidence from laboratory experiments, polls and consumer reports indicates that modern screens and e-readers fail to adequately recreate certain tactile experiences of reading on paper that many people miss and, more importantly, prevent people from navigating long texts in an intuitive and satisfying way.”

Among the effects of digital reading, Jabr continues, are lower reading comprehension, worse recall, and drained mental resources.

“A parallel line of research focuses on people’s attitudes toward different kinds of media. Whether they realize it or not, many people approach computers and tablets with a state of mind less conducive to learning than the one they bring to paper,” Jabr notes.

Has technology changed the next generation though? One father who thinks so is Jean-Louis Constanze, whose video of his baby daughter trying to make a print magazine operate like a tablet has gone viral.

“Steve Jobs has coded a part of her OS,” Constanze declares, and digital natives reveal a true generation transition that, he believes, has made print irrelevant.

Given the science behind digital screens, that’s a scary thought. Do we want to raise a generation of kids who are less adapted to learning? Maybe it’s time to pick up a good book and give that tablet a rest.