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OPLIN 4cast #337: Paper or screen?

Posted in 4cast

print screenA couple of weeks ago, the National Literacy Trust in the UK released the results of a study of the reading habits of about 35,000 British young people between the ages of eight and sixteen. The study found that, “For the first time children are reading more on computers and other electronic devices than they are reading books, magazines, newspapers and comics.” It is probably safe to assume that similar results would be seen from any study done in the U.S. And while this is not unexpected news, it still has some troubling aspects for some people.

  • Young people ‘prefer to read on screen’ (BBC News/Sean Coughlan) “The study suggests high levels of access to mobile phones, computers and tablet devices now mean that reading is an activity more likely to be on screen than on the printed page. Of those surveyed, 52% preferred to read on screen compared with 32% who preferred print, with the remainder having no opinion or preferring not to read at all.”
  • British children’s on-screen reading overtakes books ( “Nearly all children have access to a computer at home and four out of 10 now own a tablet or a smartphone, said the trust, an independent charity promoting literacy. The number of children reading e-books has doubled in the last two years, from six to 12 percent, it added. The research among 34,910 young people aged eight to 16 also found that girls are significantly more likely than boys to read in print—68 percent versus 54 percent.”
  • The reading brain in the digital age: The science of paper versus screens (Scientific American/Ferris Jabr) “And recent surveys suggest that although most people still prefer paper—especially when reading intensively—attitudes are changing as tablets and e-reading technology improve and reading digital books for facts and fun becomes more common. … Even so, 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. In turn, such navigational difficulties may subtly inhibit reading comprehension.”
  • Death of traditional books? Kids prefer reading via screen (GOOD/Liz Dwyer) “It’s worth celebrating that the majority of these kids actually read and like doing so, but what’s concerning is that researchers found that kids ‘who read daily only on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those who read daily in print or in print and on-screen.’ The researchers also found that ‘those who read only on-screen are also three times less likely to enjoy reading very much’ while a third of them are less likely to say they have a favorite book.”

Girls fact:
Girls in the National Literacy Trust study seemed to be more eclectic in their reading formats than boys. Not only were they more likely than boys to read print (68% vs. 54%), they were also more likely to read on eReaders (84% vs. 69%), mobile phones (67% vs. 60%), and tablets (70% vs. 67%).