Paper versus Screen

By Sandra - 56047 views

Which is better?  Reading from paper or reading from a screen? It feels like an old, unsolvable battle between the forces of wood and glass.

Starting at the beginning of life (those that started in the last few years at least), it seems that infants these days are more comfortable with screens than with paper. There are numerous stories of toddlers too, looking at a book or magazine and pinching the pages in a vain attempt to interact with the static content.

Technology is driving educational delivery.  With technophiles and technophobes having their own ‘Battle of the Tech’.  Teachers (may) have resistance to new technology in the classroom, and their students are pleading to include something more advanced than overhead transparency projectors. In order to learn, students have to be able to read.  The basics still hold true to the debate.  Some reading will be done on paper, but more and more reading will be done on screens.

The poor quality of reading and comprehension skills, particularly in the South African context, is partly responsible for the low rate of academic success, thus resulting in unprepared and uninformed workforces coming into the market.

Even in the work place we see conflicting ideas about reading on paper versus screens.  Reports are still being printed out and filed in an actual physical folder on a shelf somewhere.  Clients don’t want to believe that contracts that they accept over email are in fact real and in most cases binding. On-screen delivery requires on-screen reading and getting used to screen reading the fine print is essential.  Essential but as not difficult anymore, what with zoom functions and keyword/phrase searching on any page.  These no excuse.

But what does this mean for your business?  It’s wise to have an understanding and a sensitivity to the preferences of your market.  Print isn’t dead for all.  Targeting your markets in the medium that they favour can yield greater success.

The battle may continue on and yet the outcomes (reading, literacy, learning, information spread, etc.) go on being casualties of war.  Do you have a preference?  Comment below with your reason why.


Sound Idea Digital specialises in Learning Management Systems and eLearning Development |
Sandra is an eLearning Specialist & Content Editor for Sound Idea Digital |



To cite this blog article:
Slabbert, S. 2016, March 30. Paper versus Screen. <ideas> the official Sound Idea Digital blog [Web log post]. Available:

Gous, I. & Roberts, J. 2014. Message in a Bottle: Reading from Paper Versus Reading on Screen in ODeL Settings. MJSS, 5(23):2616-2626. doi: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n23p2616



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