08.12.2014

Paper Vs. screen, do we really retain less if we read on an electronic device?

Paper Vs. screen, do we really retain less if we read on an electronic device?

Image | Tribehut

“Readers absorb less when reading on a screen when reading on paper.” This statement appears increasingly more often in discussions about reading ebooks and also recently when we discussed connected schools. Despite these claims, there is still no formal study that categorically confirms this. What is the science behind our ability to understand, both on paper and on screen?

To start with, we must deal with one of the main realities of electronic devices: they incite multitasking. The instant gratification of all the options available to us on the same device limits our concentration when reading: we take a look at our mail, social networks or some game where we still have not achieved the score we wanted.

The fact is that there are several studies with interesting conclusions. They compare the ability of comprehension and retention of the text read on media aimed specifically at this task – the paper book and the “pure” electronic book reader. One, conducted by the University of Stavanger in Norway, reveals that paper readers better retained information related to the “ immersion and narrative coherence </ em>” than those who read the same text on an iPad. In the case of reading the text on a Kindle, readers also had trouble in reconstructing the story in the correct order, which according to researchers is due to “</ em> the haptic and tactile response of a Kindle that does not provides the same support for the mental reconstruction of a story featuring in a printed paperback “.

Paper Vs. screen, do we really retain less if we read on an electronic device?

Image | Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer

Some reports emerged in the 90 pointed out that even reading speed was impaired by using electronic devices. Since then, however, there have been studies that seem to corroborate these conclusions while others point to negligible differences in this regard. What does seem to be the conclusion is that most people still prefer intensive paper reading sessions, something that certainly could change in the coming years. eBook sales grwoth continues to increase and currently between 15 and 20% of books sold in the US are in electronic format.

Recently many reports are appearing; in Scientific American making a detailed analysis of all these findings. They concede that paper has many advantages but they also came to an interesting conclusion: electronic devices provide other interesting ways to read and elements that are difficult to access in printed books. The interactivity, the ability to annotate and share, the enormous storage capacity in a small space, or the ability to easily adapt the format for other content – comics infographic content – can partially compensate for the possible disadvantages in retaining information.

mSchools programme is a multi-faceted mEducation initiative by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, in collaboration with The Generalitat of Catalonia, Barcelona City Hall and GSMA. Launched in 2013, mSchools supports students and teachers effectively integrating mobile technologies into the classroom. Mobile enables access to up-to-date materials, improves collaboration and strengthens learner engagement, opening up new ways of teaching and learning that improve achievement and employability. The mSchools programme brings together private and public institutions to help students build important new skills and prepare them for today’s digital world.

Mobile World Capital presents a global vision that effectively integrates mobile technologies into the fabric of the industries transforming our lives. Committed to expanding the mobile experience throughout Barcelona, Catalonia and Spain with strong support of the public and private sector.

Mobile World Capital is leading mobile transformation through commitments in Competence Centres, local Industry Development, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation programmes.

MWCapital offers an open platform and exhibition showroom where citizens can understand and experience how mobile is enhancing our lives: The Mobile World Centre, located in the heart of Barcelona on Plaza Catalunya.

More information: