Concentrate! The challenges of reading onscreen

Our lives are full of distractions: overheard conversations, the neighbor’s lawnmower, a baby crying in the row behind us, pop-up ads on our computers. Much of the time we can mentally dismiss their
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Our lives are full of distractions: overheard conversations, the neighbor’s lawnmower, a baby crying in the row behind us, pop-up ads on our computers. Much of the time we can mentally dismiss their presence. But what about when we are reading? I have been studying how people read with printed text versus on digital devices. Both media have virtues and drawbacks. But one standout issue concerns our ability to concentrate on the words in front of us. Do we focus as well while reading on a screen as when those same words are on a printed page? The data suggest we don’t. My surveys of university students in five countries—the United States, Japan, Germany, Slovakia, and India—asked about the medium on which these young adults concentrated the best: print, a computer, an eReader, a tablet, or a mobile phone. Of the more than 400 respondents, 92% said print. In reporting what they like most about reading hard copy, respondents said things such as “You can concentrate better” and “feels. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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