Study Contradicts Previous Research, Finds Reading On Electronic Devices Doesn’t Hinder Comprehension

In May, The Inquisitr reported on “Reading Progress in Children Hindered by E-Books and Kindles,” citing the possibility that using e-readers and other Kindle-like devices may be doing just that to developing young minds – negatively influencing reading ability in terms of comprehension, retention, and pleasure.

In that study, 35,000 preteens and teenagers between 8 and 16 were surveyed. Researchers determined children – with ever-developing minds – who exclusively read from electronic devices on a daily basis were significantly less likely to be considered strong readers and were four times less likely to enjoy the practice of reading or having a favorite book.

Another study, titled “E-readers, Computer Screens, or Paper: Does Reading Comprehension Change Across Media Platforms?” and published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, contradicts the aforementioned research – suggesting instead that the choice of media does not hinder comprehension as much as hard copy purists have insisted.

Sara Margolin and colleagues at SUNY Brockport gave 90 college students a critical reading test. Participants were asked to read five fiction and five non-fiction passages, each followed by a short set of questions. The passages were provided on printed paper, a 6-inch Kindle screen, and a computer monitor.

The students were not restricted to a time frame, but were not permitted to consult one another during the examination portion. The questions required the students to extrapolate and draw conclusions from what they had read, instead of just quizzing them on their recall.

As far as educational drawbacks to digital reading, there were none based on Margolin’s study. Overall, accuracy was consistent regardless of whether the students read a passage on paper or from a screen.

Interestingly, in related research, tablets have been touted as easier on older eyes when compared to text on paper and smaller-screened Kindles – findings made by researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany. Researchers measured eye movements and brain activity from EEG scans to determine ease of reading per media.

In that study, which focused on the reading speed of participants, those 21 to 34 (360 individuals) maintained a consistent pace between various platforms: jumping from a paper book, to a Kindle e-reader and an iPad tablet.

The noticeable difference was found among those who were older, 21 users between 60 and 77. The iPad tablet improved speed seconds over Kindles and paper – the brightness of backlighting as well as the size of the page contributed to the difference.

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