Should You Read From Paper Or A Screen?

Should You Read From Paper Or A Screen?

As e-books become increasingly popular, the debate over whether reading is best done on paper or screens rages (quietly) on. One 2013 study found that 10th graders scored significantly better on reading comprehension tests if they read a passage on paper rather than on a screen. Surveys also consistently show that people prefer paper, despite the rise of Kindles, Nooks, and other e-readers. Our fondness for books seems to stem from a variety of subtle factors that have become familiar to our brains. One is the physical experience of reading a book: turning its pages, touching the words, and literally feeling how much of a story remains by holding it. Both the entire book and the page prompt a mental mapping of words in our minds that is largely absent when we're scrolling or tapping to reach the next segment. However, other research indicates that lowered reading comprehension with screens is more cultural than innate: people who do prefer screens to paper books don't appear to suffer any detriment to their reading performance.


Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    E-ink displays are made of millions of tiny spheres called microcapsules. (0:49)

  • 2

    E-ink displays only use up power when you change something on the screen. (1:49)

  • 3

    Technologies other than e-readers, such as flash drives and smart watches, can also incorporate electronic ink. (3:10)

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