The Screen versus the Page

Thursday greetings!!

Today, I’m going to share with you an argumentative essay that I wrote entitled “The Screen versus the Page”. It shouldn’t take you long to figure out the purpose of this essay! And yes, I am aware of the irony associated with promoting the page over the screen via the internet… 🙂

Read away!

The Screen versus the Page
(an argumentative essay by Alyssa Dulaney)


Throughout the years, our way of life has changed drastically. There are the more noticeable changes, like the switch from wagon to automobile, and there are the more subtle changes, that almost escape our attention, such as the progression of the writing utensil, or, in this case, our source of reading. The screen versus the page. In today’s world, over-flowing with technology, the pages of a book are a thing to be defended. Not only to preserve the past, but greatly for our own benefit.

​The first point to be made is that there is indeed a higher comprehension level associated with a physical book, as compared with an iPad, kindle, or other electronic device. Research done by Stavanger University’s lead researcher Anne Mangen proves this statement. A survey overseen by Anne herself placed a story in the hands of a number of people. Half were given physical books, and the other half, an iPad. As a result, the researchers stated that “the haptic and tactile feedback of a Kindle does not provide the same support for mental reconstruction of a story as a print pocket book does.” The screen readers had a significantly more difficult time recalling the plot line as the page readers. Their comprehension was weak in comparison.

​Similar to the Comprehension issue, is the subject of focus. Naomi Baron, professor of linguistics and Executive Director of the Center for Teaching Research and Learning at American University, claims in an article of the Washington Post: “Over %92 of those I surveyed said they concentrate best when reading a hard copy.” We see that focus is an important factor in the argument of screen versus page. When reading from a tablet, distractions such as social media and browsing are a simple click of a button away, whereas, concentration comes much easier when reading from a book, due to fewer distractions.

​One cannot forget the physical benefits of page reading over screen reading. “What are these benefits?” you may ask. It has been stated that books help our brain shut down when we are attempting to go to sleep. Also, they are far easier on our eyesight than tablet screens, as long as we have proper lighting to read by. To continue, staring at a screen can cause development of headaches, which can be prevented by reading from a hard copy. Neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf of Tufts University states “the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing.” When reading from a screen we tend to skim rather than read word-for-word. This way of reading prevents our ability to process in important reading.

​Emotional response is a small but important factor of our argument. When reading any story it is preferable to be emotionally captured. However, according to Anne Manger, emotional responses differed between page readers and screen readers. She says “In this study, we found that paper readers did report higher on measures having to do with empathy and transportation and immersion, and narrative coherence, than iPad readers.” Screen readers were less taken in emotionally and were less prone to emotional response than paper readers.
​Last, but not least, is sentimentality. This does not come with quotes or proof but a simple truth. Nothing compares with picking up a book and running your hand over its cover, new or old, or opening it up and smelling the pages within. To a true book lover, the sensation of walking out of a bookstore with a brand new book to delve into, or discovering an old novel on your grama’s bookshelf that has been in the family for ages is priceless. When pouring over a favorite, you feel your progression, and it gives a sentiment of accomplishment. You sense the pages building up on the left side, while diminishing on the right, and before you know it all is resolved, the book is completed, and you take a deep breath of glorious satisfaction.

​Books are being robbed of their glory by the convenience of the screen, and is it worth it? Will we give up our comprehension, focus, physical benefits, emotional responses, and our sentimentality, just for convenience and the saving of a few dollars? Will the books be left behind in our march toward the future? I, for one, refuse to abandon the pages. When have they ever abandoned us?

That concludes my essay and today’s post. Hope you enjoyed! Let me know what you thought, if you please. 🙂

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