It’s funny, but I have been thinking a lot about this lately, especially around my kids and online learning. How is it changing their brains to interact solely through screens? I recently asked one to look up something in a print dictionary and they DIDN’T KNOW HOW. Like, they had never encountered the concept of looking things up alphabetically. Why would they? They can type an approximation into Word and a wee red underline lets them autocorrect. Or putting something that even vaguely sounds like the right spelling into Google will still end up at figuring out what they want and serve it to them direct. But there’s a few things here I hadn’t considered. (Trigger Warning: a lot of this revolves around that cesspool Goodreads. Mostly this trigger warning is for me.)
It’s safe to say, the reading ebooks vs print debate has been hashed out many a time, both scientifically and over the dinner table of book lovers alike. As an avid Kindle reader myself, I hold no allegiance to either party. But, I am curious about the ways reading ebooks changes the way we interact, and review, the novels we consume.
Before the early ’90s, studies, according to The Scientific American, “concluded that people read slower, less accurately and less comprehensively on screens than on paper.”
Later studies back this up. A study on kids’ enjoyment when they read ebooks vs physical books report “children showed a preference for print” despite the allure of a screen. Parents, too, reported their children “paid more attention” to a print book. A Norwegian study of 10th graders revealed those who read paperbacks scored higher on post-reading questionnaires than those who read on computer screens, both with informational and narrative texts.
Let’s talk about why.