Healthy Reading

I am Raj.

And let me begin by stating that when it comes to reading, whether remorselessly forced upon me by my college instructors or for peaceful leisure, I am in favour of print media over reading from a screen. I find solace in writing within the covers of books words I find interesting, words I may not know, character characteristics, quotes, and anything else my mind forces my hand to write; however, there are other ways to read and record information, as e-readers and laptops are invading the realm of print media.

Even this blog is read using an electronic device. Although I prefer print, I cannot distribute these words any better than by using technology. So, we must ask ourselves, can print media survive this battle against their ever-improving technological foe?

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My answer?

No, but hopefully it does not become a genocide. Print media should continue to remain an option, even with the growing popularity of e-readers. Print media should remain, not because I like the old school ways of reading, or because I am on some misguided anti-technology tirade, but because there are health benefits from it.

Geske and Bellur (2008) studied brain waves of 34 college students (aged 18-25) while the students read from a computer screen (pp. 410-411). They found that more energy is used to read from a computer screen than reading print (p. 417). Now, I cannot tell you exactly how much time one would have to stare at a screen to lose a significant amount of energy, but screens do affect us without us realizing it.

The researchers found that participants reading from a computer screen “seem to negatively impact attention in the parietal lobes where eye movement is directed” (p.418). In the long term, we may see a population with shorter attention spans. Imagine going to work in a workplace where everyone is suffering from attention deficit disorder…

Many screens use rear-projection light, which can be adjusted for brightness, but is an unnatural light source for the human eye and brain. The light creates a continuous “flicker that, generally, we can’t see at a conscious level, but still exists. The situation is similar to fluorescent lighting, and studies have shown significant physiological and psychological consequences” (p. 418).

We cannot prevent technology from entering our life, but we should limit staring at screens for the benefit of our health.

Sources

Geske & Bellur (2008). Differences in brain information processing between print and computer screens.

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