AirTalk for April 10, 2014

Is reading online affecting our ability to learn?

A fair goer tries out the textunes eBook

ROBERT MICHAEL/AFP/Getty Images

A fair goer tries out the textunes eBook reader app on an Apple iPad at the Leipzig Book Fair on March 15, 2012 on the fairgrounds in Leipzig, eastern Germany

Digital devices have exploded onto the market in the past decade and they're already having a major impact on how humans read and absorb information.

Reading books and articles online or a tablet takes very different brain skills than reading an actual book on paper. It's a constant struggle to keep our eye focused as we're being bombarded by links, ads, short paragraphs and pop-ups.

So is it possible that the constant distractions are retraining our brains to absorb information differently?

Some reading experts say yes and are now concerned that our brains are being rewired to read differently. Our 'digital brains' are no longer primed to sit down with a thick classic novel and read with no distractions.

Americans spend more time online on desktop and mobile devices than ever. It's been estimated that US adults  spent up to 5 hours a day online in 2013 -- up from three hours in 2010.

Do you find that increased time online is having an impact on your ability to read and absorb information? What impact is this type of reading having on our brains? Does our reading comprehension level change when reading on paper versus a digital device?

Guest:  

Andrew Dillon, dean of the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin

 


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