Monday, May 14, 2018

Millennial Students Defy E-Books for Traditional Books

When it comes to their studies, the generation that grew up with a screen in hand prefers old school to new school.  ♦ 
Millennials are known for numerous traits that split them off from their predecessors in Gen X and the Baby Boomer generations—they make up the majority of people in the workforce, they’re the fastest-growing generation, and they hold views towards politics, marketing, education and religion that vastly differ from the aforementioned groups. As a millennial myself, I cannot deny that there are some traits that often make us look bad as a whole, and one, in particular, is our relationship to technology. While Baby Boomers grew up with television being the driving force of their childhood, Millennials grew up with the limitless world of the internet and, along with it, social media, Amazon, iPhones and, most notably when it comes to our reading habits, e-books.

Of course millennials also grew up with the tried-and-true physical books that older generations depended on, the kind that requires the flipping of actual pages, but they were the first generation to have the ease and ability to read any book with a click of a mouse. So it’s interesting that 90% of millennial students, the generation most adapted to the use of a screen, prefer to use a traditional book for their studies, according to a new report.

Why do students prefer to use traditional books when they have the instant world of online reading at their fingertips? According to Tech Times, students prefer traditional books over e-books because e-books are distracting, headache and eye-strain inducing, and cannot be highlighted or written on. Despite students being constantly submerged in a world of technology, the tactile and sensory experience of reading print, such as the smell of a book, and familiarity with the format convince students to unplug while studying and pick up a large, bulky chemistry book instead. The growing trend majorly belies the discrepancy that parents, teachers, and policymakers believe that students prefer the convenience and ease of the digital screen, whereas students actually perform better and comprehend more when using a traditional print book. Despite this, lawmakers continue to push forward with digitizing student’s education and materials. According to Forbes, California passed a law in 2011 requiring all college textbooks to be available in electronic form by 2020; in 2011, Florida lawmakers passed legislation for public schools to convert their textbooks from print to digital versions.

The pros of reading digitally include being able to consume light reading such as news and other articles with video or digital components; however, for heavier reading, such as those with textbooks and academic articles, a physical book proved to be the better choice for student’s long-term retention. On the other end of the spectrum, critics of e-books for textbooks worry that while they are the presumed to be the future of higher education, they are being forced into student’s lives. and professors and students alike found that relying on a tablet or computer to view text was not only very distracting but also made way for other sources of enjoyment—social media, texting, and online shopping to name a few—to become much too frequent in lecture halls across the US.

As an English major myself, many assume that if one is caught with anything other than a traditional book in hand, that its blasphemous work. While I do occasionally enjoy the smell of a hardback book and prefer to keep my books stacked throughout the nooks and crannies in my childhood home, I’m not some staunch overseer who thinks e-book users are “traitors.” I have purchased several e-textbooks for my various courses throughout college, especially online courses. That being said, I prefer to take notes from and highlight in traditional books when it comes to studying. I think this habit stems back to the fact that when I was in grade-school, e-books were not on the market yet. I grew up with bookmarks, dog-eared pages and a nostalgic appreciation for the “real” written word, per say. Regardless of one’s opinion on this stance, there should not be animosity for those who prefer e-books. They have plenty of benefits, especially for students who are always looking for convenience and, given the increasingly high costs of textbooks, an excellent way to get the material and also save a buck or two.

  • About the Author
    Julia May is a senior Strategic Communication and Professional Writing double major. She hails from Akron, Ohio and is an unapologetic Cleveland sports fan. When not doing schoolwork, she enjoys learning to cook a new recipe, being out on the lake, and reading a good book. After graduation in a few days, she will to move to Cleveland where she will work at Modgility as a Brand Journalist.

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