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Storybooks On Paper Better For Children Than Reading Fiction On Computer Screen, According to Expert

Susan Notes:

This is definitely worth
thinking about, and do the promoters of virtual
schools, virtual texts, virtual lives, give any
indication they are thinking aobut it?

by Staff

Clicking and scrolling interrupt our
attentional focus. Turning and touching the
pages instead of clicking on the screen
influence our ability for experience and
attention. The physical manipulations we have
to do with a computer, not related to the
reading itself, disturb our mental
appreciation, says associate professor Anne
Mangen at the Center for Reading Research at
the University of Stavanger in Norway. She has
investigated the pros and cons of new reading

Mangen maintains that reading on a screen
generates a new form of mental orientation. The
reader loses both the completeness and
constituent parts of the physical appearance of
the reading material. The physical substance of
a book offers tranquility. The text does not
move on the page like it does on a screen.

"Several experiments in cognitive psychology
have shown how a change of physical
surroundings has a potentially negative affect
on memory. We should include this in our
evaluation of digital teaching aids. The
technology provides for a number of dynamic,
mobile and ephemeral forms of learning, but we
know little about how such mobility and
transience influence the effect of teaching.
Learning requires time and mental exertion and
the new media do not provide for that," Mangen

"We experience to day a one-sided admiration
for the potentials in the technology. ICT is
now introduced in kindergarten without much
empirical research on how it influences
children̢۪s learning and development. The whole
field is characterized by an easy acceptance
and a less subtle view of the technology," the
researcher says.

Would you warn against the use of digital
teaching material?

"Critical perspectives on new technologies are
often brushed aside as a result of moral panic
and doomsday prophecies. I will not warn
against it, but I think there is generally
little reflection around digital teaching
material. What we need, is a more nuanced view
on the potentials and limitations of all
technologies â€" even of the book. Very often
important discussions about technology and
learning have a tendency to reduce a complex
field to a question about being for or
against," Mangen explains.

The development of digital media leads to a
need for more sophisticated concepts of reading
and writing and a new understanding of these

"Many people say that children read less and
not so well as earlier. With which technology
do they read less? What types of text do they
read less well? What conceptions of reading are
we talking about," Anne Mangen asks.

Even if children and young people do not read
as many novels in book form any more, one may
still argue that they actually read more than
before. Most of what they do on a computer or
on their cell phones, is exactly reading and

"Swedish researchers believe we understand more
and better when reading on paper than when we
read the same text on a screen. We avoid
navigating and the small things we don't think
about, but which subconsciously takes attention
away from the reading. Also texts on a screen
are often not adapted to the screen format. The
most important difference is when the text
becomes digital. Then it loses its physical
dimension, which is special to the book, and
the reader loses his feeling of totality."

Mangen has mainly been looking at hypertext
stories. These stories exploit the multimedia
possibilities of a computer and use both
hypertext, video, sound, pictures and text.
They are constructed in such a way that
clicking one's way around them comes close to a
literary computer game.

As a researcher, Mangen is interested in the
physical aspect of reading and applies theories
from psychology and phenomenology linked to the
relationships between motor functions and
attention in order to highlight the difference
between reading a novel and a hypertext story.
"The digital hypertext technology and its use
of multimedia are not open to the experience of
a fictional universe where the experience
consists of creating your own mental images.
The reader gets distracted by the opportunities
for doing something else," Mangen says.

Journal reference:
Anne Mangen. Digital fiction reading: Haptics
and immersion. Journal of Research in

Adapted from materials provided by The
University of Stavanger.

— Anne Mangen
Science Daily


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