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Does Online Reading Affect Your Brain?

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There is a terrific article on the Washington Post’s website about what online reading is doing to our ability to read more serious stuff. In short, it’s making it harder; there is research that warns that the “skimming brain” we use online will be competing with, and, possibly, crowding out our slow reading brain.

The way we approach information on the internet is to skim through it to see if it is worth our time; most of the time, it isn’t, so we skim and move on. Then when approaching something longer, like a novel, we find it hard to resist the urge to skim and move on. They’ve even come up with a name for it: the “eye byte” culture. I try to read a novel for at least an hour before I got to sleep every night (except when Game of Thrones is on) just so I don’t succumb. There is a movement to encourage “slow” reading, but they might be fighting an uphill battle; according to the article Americans went from spending three hours a day online in 2010 to five hours a day in 2013. The big worry isn’t so much people my age, whose reading habits are pretty much set, its for children who are growing up with tablets and smartphones and who might never to learn to “deep” read, just skim and skip.

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