Books vs ebooks

Belen Silva, Staff Writer

Technology has influenced the way we learn, react, think, and create. It is now a monumental part of our daily lives and without it, our world would probably crash and burn. Don’t get me wrong, some of these electronics have saved lives, literally and figuratively, whether it’s AED machine that can resuscitate a loved one, or turning in that last minute report through email just on time practically “saving your life.” But is technology really necessary when reading books? In the great battle between books and ebooks, which one is really considered the best to use? As an avid reader for the past 12 years, I would confidently say that good, old fashioned paper books provide a more beneficial reading experience because the overuse of technology can affect your mental health, can cause stress and eye strain. While reading e-books you can miss out on important information.

We use technology enough as it is, and using it more will just increase our lack of retention. A 2009 study has shown that while being stressed or nervous, six minutes into reading will help you calm down. On the other hand, if you were to read an ebook, it would not give you the same effect. Especially reading ebooks at night or using any tech can cause depression. Have you ever tried to put your phone down at night but seem to keep using it throughout the night? Not only does it stress you out and cause depression, but it also disrupts your sleep patterns which could cause you to do poorly in school.

Not only can it affect our mental health, but our physical health as well. Spending too much time staring at a screen can contribute to having watery eyes, itching or a burning sensation as well as headaches and eye strain. This will obviously lead to having glasses. According to CBS News, “A 2014 study published in the journal PNAS found that reading an ebook before bedtime decreased the production of melatonin, a hormone that preps the body for sleep.”

From my personal experience, I have been a somewhat victim of these symptoms of using technology to read. One day after school, I was anxious to head over to the library to check out a book that I had wanted to read that was long overdue. Unfortunately, it was closed and I couldn’t wait another day to read this book so I went online and found an e-book version. That night, I was already on page 12 and my eyes were burning and they started to get a little watery. I wore my reading glasses to see if they could better my situation and they did for about an hour. Eventually I gave up and put my laptop down because I couldn’t read another word without closing my eyes every ten seconds. The next day I had woken up to a small headache between my eyes and had to squint for most of the day. While reading a paperback, I never had to use my reading glasses because honestly, I never needed them. I could go hours reading, but the previous night I had only read 50 pages. This was only one night of reading ebooks. I could only imagine the people who use this every day.

Lastly, a contributing factor to why e-books shouldn’t be replaced with paper books is that, while you might think about reading all this information on your Kindle or Nook, you could be missing out on some very  information. A 2014 study shows that most readers who read on a tablet recall less information than when reading a paperback.

Scientists still don’t know what causes this but it seems that readers find it difficult to keep track physically and mentally in an e-book. That being said, keeping track and also an emotional feel to the book doesn’t have the same effect as the real ones. A 2012 study from the Guardian stated, “iPad readers didn’t feel that the story was as immersive, and therefore weren’t able to connect with it on an emotional level. Further, those who read on paper were much more capable of placing the story’s events in chronological order.” Having a tangible thing makes the experience more real than reading it on a screen. Call me old fashioned but reading books should be enjoyed without any complications whatsoever. Using e-books regularly not only takes away the feel of the reading experiences but can cause more damage than it’s worth.