As more of our professional and pleasurable reading shifts to screens, the way in which we read is changing. And while technology is not exactly eating away at our brains, it is causing us to read less deeply.
As more of our professional and pleasurable reading shifts to screens, the way in which we read is changing. And while technology is not exactly eating away at our brains, it is causing us to read less deeply, skimming for the gist rather than looking for more substantial patterns. When we go online, for example, “we become tired from the constant need to filter out hyperlinks and possible distractions. And our eyes themselves may grow fatigued from the constantly shifting screens, layouts, colors, and contrasts, an effect that holds for e-readers as well as computers.” We read more quickly on screens, but when sentences become too long, we skip the remainder and move to the next.
What’s the Big Idea?
To be sure, there is no going back. As educators, citizens, and professionals, we must develop skills to cope with technology so that it continues to serve knowledge rather than sap it. One big pitfall, of course, is the common of using the Internet to multitask–whether finding a recipe for dinner or checking Facebook–while reading for information. Fortunately, “[t]he same plasticity that allows us to form a reading circuit to begin with, and short-circuit the development of deep reading if we allow it, also allows us to learn how to duplicate deep reading in a new environment.”
When Parkinson’s patients treated with a synthetic dopamine-precursor pill, levodopa, showed high upticks in creative activities from writing novels to painting portraits, their doctors began to wonder at the causes.