Thursday October 31, 2019


Switch Off

Technological advancements have made people switch from all forms of physical activities to digital and electronic media. This transformation has been gradual; in that, we are increasingly using computers, tablets, and phones for entertainment, news, and information. In the last decade, every marketing strategy has shifted from print to digital.

However, there is good news for printing and paper companies. According to neuroscience research, paper-based content and ads have a special way of connecting with our brains. Glossy brochures, bulky manuals, advertisements through mail pieces, and other printed items may see a comeback.

We may not see an immediate switch back to paper content, but in an all-digital world, the unique benefits of printed material cannot be ignored. The ongoing debate between digital and physical books is never-ending. Most people still prefer “reading books” as their favorite hobby. Whereas others are content with the easy accessibility and convenience of an e-book or other reading material, a pocket and eco-friendly option. Books are still considered as best friends; an ideal gift and the satisfying feel and smell of a book cannot be replaced by electronic writing.


Power On


Sleep Deprivation:

90% of people in the U.S, including children, use a technological device before turning in either for entertainment or work-related purpose. This can have an adverse effect on sleeping patterns, as it can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating. It can delay the body’s internal clock by supressing the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. This is due to the artificial blue light that is emitted by electronic devices. In addition, it delays the onset of REM sleep, reduces the total amount of REM sleep, decreasing alertness in the morning.

Over time, sleep deprivation can have a detrimental effect on health. The psychological changes are triggered by cortisol, which controls fight-or-flight reaction. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to depression, high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, dementia, and stroke.


Sleep deprived

In a study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, reading can be a substitution to counter these adverse effects. Hence, print books have seen a resurgence. In today’s digital world, the power of printed material is becoming more apparent. A conscious effort or “digital curfew” is necessary to help keep the brain active and engaged.


How does the brain respond differently to an onscreen text compared to written text?

Reading in print is gaining popularity because neuroscience has proved its efficacy. A study conducted by a neuromarketing firm in Canada compared the effects of digital vs. printed paper marketing. Eye-tracking and high-resolution EEG brain wave measurements were used to evaluate cognitive skills (ease of understanding), motivation and attention span. The results showed that direct mail was easier to process mentally and tested better for brand recall.

Research has also revealed that humans use different parts of the brain when reading from a piece of paper or from a screen. Reading from screens shifts the mind towards “non-linear” reading, which involves skimming through the text. While reading printed material from a book or document, we use the “deep reading” part of the brain. It is concentrated reading where we immerse ourselves in a novel or other printed material to kick-start the brain and develop a “bi-literate” brain.

The health hazards of reading material on the screen:

Reading the material on screens can be distracting. It is easier to be sidetracked as digital readers spend more time scanning for keywords than actually processing what they are reading. With a print book, there is no chance of getting distracted by links or being sucked down an internet rabbit hole. According to a survey conducted among university students, 67% were able to multitask while reading digitally compared to 41% of print readers.


Night read

Psychologists distinguish between remembering- to recall a piece of information along with contextual details such as when, where, when, and how one learned it  and knowing something, which is feeling that something is true without remembering how one learned the information.

Remembering something is a weaker form of memory that may fade if not converted into a more stable, long-term memory that is “known.” Volunteers who read study material on a monitor relied much more on remembering than knowing, whereas those that read print relied equally on remembering and knowing.  Screen-based learning is often more taxing physically as well as mentally. Navigating text on screens impairs comprehension.


Eyes hurting


Side Effects on Your Brain:

Increased time spent in front of screens interferes with a wide range of life essentials and cognitive skills. It can affect short and long-term memory, attention span, decision-making and problem-solving abilities, and sleep disorders and can affect relationships.

Researchers suggest that people comprehend less when they read on-screen because the glare, pixilation, and flickers on screens, smartphones and tablets can tire the eyes. Eyestrain, headaches and blurred vision are some of the common symptoms among people who work long hours in front of computer screens. This affects almost 70 percent people and officially recognized as computer vision syndrome.



Electronic reading negatively influences the way the brain responds to the text, including focus, reading comprehension, and the ability to maintain attention to detail like the plot and sequence of events. This may weaken the critical and analytical skills of a person. People reading on screens seem less inclined to engage in what psychologists term as ‘metacognitive’ learning. Print material can be highly immersive, whereas online text can be the most distracting.


Health Benefits of Reading Printed Material:


The flipside is that there are many benefits to reading print. It helps improve health by lowering heart rate and blood pressure. It is visually satisfying, and the tactile experience improves concentration, retention, and retrieval of information. It is especially important for children to read printed books to improve their reading skills and knowledge. Children understand better in print as parents can spend more time discussing a story or concept, resulting in improved development.   

Students who read on paper learn the study material more thoroughly and quickly, as their cognitive skills are better, and they did not have to spend time searching their minds for information from the text, in an attempt to trigger the right memory.


Mom and kid reading

An open paperback book has defined dimensions, obvious topography than onscreen text. A reader can physically turn the pages; feel the thickness making the text in a paper book easily navigable. It is easier to form a coherent mental map of the text in their minds

The ease with which you can find the beginning, end and everything in between, the constant connection of your path, and able to monitor the progress in the text, might in some way make the task less taxing cognitively, leaving more free space for comprehension. You feel more in control, and you can go back and forth over the text repeatedly.


Reading at the beach


E-books Vs. Paper Books


There is a constant debate about whether e-books should replace printed material and vice versa. The e-book sales skyrocketed, between 2008-2010, however recently this trend has plateaued. A healthy balance between the two may help children and people of all ages take advantage of both forms of text materials.

It is vital for our children growing up in this highly digitalized world to know the value of reading print. Adults, teachers, and parents must ensure children practice deeper and slow reading to improve cognitive, analytical and learning abilities. Strategies such as setting specific goals, rereading difficult sections and checking how much one has understood along the way can be used for reinforcement.


Happy kid reading

Scientists analyzed the chemical composition of old books, found that it contains hints of a vanilla-like smelling compound, books have been used since times immemorial to preserve leaves and flowers. It is a pleasure reading books; they make us happier, inspire us to travel, and encourage us to make life-changing decisions. So, next time, do not feel guilty if you spend a little more than you planned at the bookstore.


Book smell

Technology cannot replace human experiences; its intent and use should be to remove the friction and frustration, making reading more meaningful or convenient. A biliterate society, one that values both the digital and printed word, will help maintain a balance.




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