Is Digital Reading changing our Brains?

11 Jan 2017

The short answer is yes. Digital Reading refers to reading of contexts which are not in hardcopy. This includes blogs, e-newspapers, news, digital libraries, ebooks, messages and many more. With the advent of technology, we are shifting from the classical reading to Digital Reading at a very fast pace. Over the past years there has been a dramatic increase in the online reading platforms. Today we read news from online newspapers; we read ebooks and use digital libraries etc on the internet. Earlier we didn’t have such a surplus information available to us. Thus we had always been within the boundaries of classical reading. Now, our brain seems to be evolving to adapt to our new way of reading in the digital environment. Research on this matter has provided the fact that Digital reading has lot of positive as well as negative effect on readers.

Boosting our Concentration: The profusion of information and its ease of access has led to endless number of distractions lurking at every corner of the web. Our concentration skills can actually be improved by digital reading. MRI scans provide us the evidence that our brains are becoming better at exploring through excess information in order to find exactly what we are looking for.
MRI scans have shown that in contrast to reading on paper, the internet is generating far stronger stimuli in the parts of our brain that manage decision making and complex reasoning. Thus we can see that there is an increase in concentration as we are jumping from one context to another in search for the right information.

Retention rates are lowered: Studies show that our attitude towards the delivery method plays a significant role. This is because we tend approach reading books with a learning attitude, whereas online reading can be more passive and less linear in its absorption. It is a tendency that readers tend to remember less of the content they have read online than hard copy books.

Affecting our Thinking capability: It is affecting the capability of our brain and as a result we are thinking less while reading. As we have shifted to digital reading, one does not have time to rethink whatever they are reading. Everybody is in the rush to visit each and every link and gather as much information as possible.
Loss of Patience: Classical way of reading helped us to be patient as the information in hand was limited. Now that we have surplus amount of knowledge on the internet, we are always in the hurry to visit different links and read articles. If just the first line of the article does not seem to be interesting, we start visiting other pages and links. As a result readers are losing the patience to even read till the end and judge the article on the basis of that.

We need to keep in mind a couple of points before determining whether or not digital reading is creating an impact on our brains. Research on this field is relatively new and is yielding conflicting results. Online reading has surfaced only over the last decade,so it is difficult to come to a conclusion at this point. We need to become smart with the smarter technology but keeping in mind that it does not affect our health adversely.