If you missed Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, you may want to review the research results contained therein.
A graduate student at American University, Claire Handscombe sounded the alarm as she noticed how her web surfing/scanning habits negatively affected her reading of novels:
From the article:
To cognitive neuroscientists, Handscombe’s experience is the subject of great fascination and growing alarm. Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia.
“I worry that the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing,” said Maryanne Wolf, a Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.
And a bit more:
The brain was not designed for reading. There are no genes for reading like there are for language or vision. But spurred by the emergence of Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Phoenician alphabet, Chinese paper and, finally, the Gutenberg press, the brain has adapted to read.
Before the Internet, the brain read mostly in linear ways — one page led to the next page, and so on. Sure, there might be pictures mixed in with the text, but there didn’t tend to be many distractions. Reading in print even gave us a remarkable ability to remember where key information was in a book simply by the layout, researchers said. We’d know a protagonist died on the page with the two long paragraphs after the page with all that dialogue.
The Internet is different. With so much information, hyperlinked text, videos alongside words and interactivity everywhere, our brains form shortcuts to deal with it all — scanning, searching for key words, scrolling up and down quickly. This is nonlinear reading, and it has been documented in academic studies. Some researchers believe that for many people, this style of reading is beginning to invade when dealing with other mediums as well.
So, when we see that Lower School boys have reading of any subject assigned for tonight's homework, we expect that the assignment be read in an environment conducive for comprehension, read again, notes taken if necessary, and reviewed. Every time if necessary in order for the content to push through the mysterious process resulting in what we know as memory and recall.
It is not often easy for these guys. The more difficult it is for them, the more the boys should unplug and read. Practice helps because neuroplasticity or cortical remapping encourages us to anticipate our ability to learn new information.