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The brain is a wondrous machine. It is the most complex thing we know of and is the vehicle through which we receive, comprehend and experience well, everything in the universe.

With the rise of all things digital, several scientists over the last decade sought to determine whether the brain prefers to process written words when reading from electronic screens such as phones, tablets, or monitors or from the printed page.

The truth is, we are reading more than ever before. The near totality of human knowledge is literally at our fingertips; but answering the printed page vs screens question comes with a lot of variables such as the person doing the reading and their skill level, the type of material they are reading, the purpose, and the technology they are using. According to, patterns are beginning to emerge from the research that shows that the length of the text and how important it is to comprehend or learn from the text are the major important factors when determining whether printed or digital mediums are best.

A recent study showed that while young people, also known as “digital natives” may prefer to use screens, humans learn MUCH more effectively from printed pages. Researchers Lauren M. Singer and Patricia A. Alexander e conducted three studies that explored college students’ ability to comprehend information on paper and from screens.

The main findings of their research were:

  • Students overwhelmingly preferred to read digitally.
  • Reading was significantly faster online than in print.
  • Students judged their comprehension as better online than in print.
  • Paradoxically, overall comprehension was better for print versus digital reading.
  • The medium didn’t matter for general questions (like understanding the main idea of the text).
  • When it came to specific questions, comprehension was significantly better when participants read printed texts.

Aside from their own studies, these researchers conducted a review of the research conducted on the subject since 1992. “We found that students were able to better comprehend information in print for texts that were more than a page in length. This appears to be related to the disruptive effect that scrolling has on comprehension.”

Whether people like it or not, our brains learn better using printed material.

So the next time you need to do some important reading, use the Mopria Print Service app, which you can download in Google Play for your Android device to print those pages. Your brain will thank you.

Mopria Alliance

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