Written by Arnfinn Christensen for the website ScienceNordic, Paper beats computer screens highlights a recent study that joins a number of others supporting the notion that reading comprehension “is far better” when reading from the printed page than when reading “those same words on a computer screen.”
Mr. Christensen describes a Norwegian study of 10th graders that had two groups read the same texts from both the printed page and the computer screen. Reading of both fiction and non-fiction was tested, but the results were the same; “those who had read on computer screens had understood less than those who read on paper.”
Why? Evidently it has something to do with mental mapping and the physical experience of reading from paper. Other studies have also found a deeper emotional affinity for paper. At least one other study found that those “who read on paper became more deeply involved with the story than those who read it on the tablet.”
Of course, it’s more complicated that that so you’ll need to read the article to get the full story but it does raise important questions about the impact on education as the reading experience in our schools and libraries becomes increasingly dominated by computer screens. Could our blind faith in technology be misplaced?