At my gym the shiny young manager called me a dinosaur because I wasn’t interested in functional fitness (I don’t need to pay Lifetime Fitness to me do something akin to getting on my hands and knees to scrub the floor).
Maybe I am a dinosaur, but I might be a happy dinosaur when it comes to digital vs. print reading.
I love real newspapers and magazines. I prefer paper books to digital, but for convenience I use a Kindle because it’s easier for travel.
But I’ve often thought my retention and my attention span are better when I read print. Virginia Clinton-Lisell, PhD who is Assistant Professor of Education, Health and Behavior at the University of North Dakota, proved my hunch. She analyzed 33 high quality laboratory studies on screen versus paper. Twenty-nine of the studies concluded that students of all ages absorb more when they are reading on paper, particularly when it comes to non-fiction. Complex information is also better absorbed in print than in digital, because people need to locate themselves in the text when looking at complex ideas – and that’s much easier to do in print than in digital.
Print stimulates more senses. One exclusive quality that print has and the digital media can never match is just how tangible it is. Consumers are able to browse through a magazine, feel the paper and even distinguish between certain paper densities and compositions. For example, one specific ad may be printed on a thicker, more porous paper that is easy to take notice of, compared to the rest of the glossy sheets in the magazine. Also, there’s the smell of ink on paper that adds to the overall experience of reading something printed. These are important senses that cannot be stimulated in the digital environment.
An uninterrupted reading experience. This means that there are no distractions for a reader that is committed to finishing an article. Once they start reading, there are no other bits of news, auto-playing videos or pop-ups taking the spotlight off the article.
Some experts think the glare and flicker of screens tax the brain more than paper. If this were untrue, I doubt that blue light filtering glasses would have been invented.
I like holding a print edition in my hand, and saving it so I can look back at any time. For me, there is comfort in being a reading dinosaur.