The Impact of Reading Digitally

Photo Credit: Lexie Flickinger (CC-By-2.0)

I loved reading on my iPad (before it went kaput) and I enjoy reading on my Kindle. I’ve made the switch to digital because, frankly, I don’t have much more room to store books. I appreciate the convenience of being able to have a library at my fingertips without the issues of storage (and to have to carry them around).

My book reading habit was set at an early age. I don’t skip around a book. I sit down and read from start to finish. Articles I tend to skim initially and then go back to read in-depth primarily because of the glut of information I attempt to consume on a daily basis.

How about young readers? How will the digital age impact their reading habits? Holly Korbey writing at MindShift asked how digital text is changing how kids read and reports that it is making an impact:

According to San Jose State University researcher Ziming Lu, this is typical “screen-based reading behavior,” with more time spent browsing, scanning and skimming than in-depth reading. As reading experiences move online, experts have been exploring how reading from a screen may be changing our brains. Reading expert Maryanne Wolf, author of Proust and the Squid, has voiced concerns that digital reading will negatively affect the brain’s ability to read deeply for sophisticated understanding, something that Nicholas Carr also explored in his book, The Shallows. Teachers are trying to steer students toward digital reading strategies that practice deep reading, and nine out of ten parents say that having their children read paper books is important to them.

But since digital reading is still in its infancy, for many adults it’s hard to know exactly what the issues are—what’s happening to a young brain when reading online? Should kids be reading more paper books, and why? Do other digital activities, like video games and social media apps, affect kids’ ability to reach deep understanding when reading longer content, like books? And how do today’s kids learn to toggle between paper and the screen?

The digital revolution and all of our personal devices have produced a sort of reading paradox: because of the time spent with digital tech, kids are reading more now, in literal words, than ever. Yet the relationship between reading and digital tech is complicated.

I encourage you to read her whole piece.

As schools push toward increasing the education tech that students use this is something that they will have to consider.