We are in the day of digital reading. After seeing a post recently about the differences between reading something from a printed page versus a digital page, I began to think about reading our Bibles. I have already experienced a difference in my own personal study by reading my Bible on printed page vs. digital, although I do on occasion read from my Kindle or other Bible software programs. But there always seems to be a difference I could not really identify. I’ve been journaling for nearly 40 years and I have attempted to journal on a computer vs using a hand-written journal. And, there was a major difference in recording and rereading the entries. Rereading 20+ year old journals in my own handwriting was pretty moving to me while reading something I had created on my computer around the same time did not have that same affect.
So, I did a little research and found than when comparing a printed text versus a digitalized text, a person is more than 50% more likely to be distracted or multi-task when reading a digital screen. I also found that comprehension was about the same on either format, but when reconstructing or retelling the story, those reading from printed text had better recall. Another researcher allowed students to determine how much time they would spend reading and on which type of format they would use. They discovered that those who chose a digital format tended to spend less time reading and performed less well on subsequent comprehension tests. (https://newrepublic.com/article/135326/digital-reading-no-substitute-print)
A Bangor University Research Project found the following on paper vs. digital reading: (https://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerdooley/2015/09/16/paper-vs-digital/#491606bb33c3)
Some of their key conclusions were:
- Physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.
- Physical material involves more emotional processing, which is important for memory and brand associations.
- Physical materials produced more brain responses connected with internal feelings, suggesting greater “internalization” of the ads.
So, what about our Bibles? I remember the numerous times that God has spoken to me by just allowing my Bible to fall open to a specific text. Or, re-reading passages that had been marked at various times with footnotes in the margins and how they had ministered to me. This could not have happened on a digital format. Looking at the Bangor Research conclusions above, these are all significant reasons to want to read our Bibles from the printed page, vs digital. If the Word of God can become more real to me, or if I can become more emotionally involved while meditating on the Word of God, that is certainly a benefit. Also, the importance of “internalizing” the Word of God is critical in the life of a believer.
Possibly those who have grown up in the digital age would not understand or even believe the difference the printed paper would make, but those of us who have experienced both sides of the computer phenomenon have a different frame of reference. So don’t ditch the Kindles, iPhones and computer software programs, but when it comes to spending time in the Word of God, why not trust the resources that even bi-partisan research has shown to be more effective.
Just a thought!