Dec 15, 2023 - Technology

Reading print is better for comprehension than screens, study finds

Illustration of a laptop with the screen made out of a bookshelf.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Leisure reading on paper helps with text comprehension better than reading on digital devices, according to a new study.

Driving the news: "The main conclusion is that leisure reading habits on screen are minimally related to reading comprehension," researchers at the University of Valencia found.

By the numbers: The researchers, who analyzed more than two dozen studies, said "the relationship between the frequency of reading printed texts and text comprehension is much higher (between 0.30 and 0.40) than what we found for leisure digital reading habits (0.05)."

  • "This means, for example, that if a student spends 10 hours reading books on paper, their comprehension will probably be 6 to 8 times greater than if they read on digital devices for the same amount of time," study co-authors Cristina Vargas and Ladislao Salmerón said.

Of note: The study also found that as students get older, the relationship between recreational reading on digital devices and text comprehension improves.

Details: The researchers analyzed 25 studies on reading comprehension published between 2000 and 2022, with more than 450,000 participants.

  • "One might have expected that reading for informational purposes (i.e., visiting Wikipedia or other educational websites; reading news, or reading e-books) would be much more positively related to comprehension, but this is not the case," one researcher said.
  • The study was published earlier this week in the Review of Educational Research.

Go deeper: Attempts to ban books at public libraries surge at record levels

Go deeper