Do you own a tablet or other similar device? Even if you have several e-readers in your home, chances are you still interact with traditional books, magazines, and newspapers. After all, these ink-and-paper standbys have always been with us, even as digital methods of storing and consuming our reading materials gain a more significant share of the marketplace. Despite the popularity of e-readers, paper still holds sway. So there’s one crucial question that comes out of all of this: how does the brain read in the era of e-readers?
How Text and Language Overlap
Whether we are reading books or e-readers, the process of reading is similar. We scan a page and absorb the information contained in it. To our brains, the text is a concrete representation of the abstract notion of language. Spoken languages developed long before the technology and skills of reading and writing came about, after all.
Reading Matters, E-Reading Matters
Whenever we read something, we expect to come away from the experience with something learned, or gained. However, whichever method in which you choose to read your next bestselling novel, memoir, or the way in which you compose your own personal writers’ journal – remember to protect your eyes.
Changing the Way We Think
Science studies everything, so it should be no surprise that many scientific studies are coming together in pursuit of an elusive conclusion: screens are changing the way we think when it comes to reading something. Any screen time is more draining on your attention than the same amount of time spent looking at a piece of paper. It would seem that people just don’t try as hard to read when something is on a screen as opposed to a page. Typical tactics include browsing, skimming, searching for a particular piece of information instead of going through the text line by line.
You might not be familiar with the phrase metacognitive learning regulation, but it controls the way you approach reading. You might set an objective for a specific paragraph, try to digest less comprehensible parts, and ask yourself if you understand what you read. Reading forms an unspoken contract between consumer and producer, so if you are less keen to read on an e-reader than on a piece of paper, that may not be entirely your own decision.
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