from the read-all-about-it! dept.
Michael Rosenwald writes in the WaPot that textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer reading on paper for pleasure and learning, a bias that surprises reading experts given the same group’s proclivity to consume most other content digitally. “These are people who aren’t supposed to remember what it’s like to even smell books,” says Naomi S. Baron. “It’s quite astounding.” Earlier this month, Baron published “Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World,” a book that examines university students’ preferences for print and explains the science of why dead-tree versions are often superior to digital. Her conclusion: readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers. Researchers say readers remember the location of information simply by page and text layout — that, say, the key piece of dialogue was on that page early in the book with that one long paragraph and a smudge on the corner. Researchers think this plays a key role in comprehension - something that is more difficult on screens, primarily because the time we devote to reading online is usually spent scanning and skimming, with few places (or little time) for mental markers.
Another significant problem, especially for college students, is distraction. The lives of millennials are increasingly lived on screens. In her surveys, Baron writes that she found “jaw-dropping” results to the question of whether students were more likely to multitask in hard copy (1 percent) vs. reading on-screen (90 percent). "The explanation is hardly rocket science," says Baron. "When a digital device has an Internet connection, it’s hard to resist the temptation to jump ship: I’ll just respond to that text I heard come in, check the headlines, order those boots that are on sale." “You just get so distracted,” one student says. “It’s like if I finish a paragraph, I’ll go on Tumblr, and then three hours later you’re still not done with reading.”