Are technological devices more useful than books? A report by Francesca Di Pasquale

Nowadays, we rely on technology for all kinds of necessities and we are moving away from books and encyclopaedias in paper format. We chose this topic for a class debate, in which the two teams spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of technological devices compared to traditional books.

The pro group supported the use of technology in education because, in their opinion, teachers must prepare children for the future, helping them to learn how computers, tablets, etc can be used to do research, analyze data and so on. In their opinion, using these devices to study may be easier and more attractive for younger generations. It may be also faster than writing by hand and doing book research, since books are not always as updated as their Internet counterparts. The group also argued how tablets and ebooks may reduce prices and are more convenient to carry. They also remarked on another aspect, namely, the environment, pointing out that with ebooks a lot of trees remain untouched. Finally, they mentioned some American studies that showed better results in learning and knowledge retention for students using computers or apps in their education.

The other group argued in support of paper books by raising health-related issues. First was damage to the eye induced by the brightness of screens and the effort required by eye muscles which could lead to Computer Vision Syndrome, known as CVS, caused by focusing on device displays for protracted period. The second point raised was a research that showed how people reading ebooks understand the text less easily and have more problems with the structure of the text than people reading paper books. This happens because, with a paper book, it is not just the sense of sight that is used, but also touching pages gives the reader a better sense of progression in reading. They highlighted the significance of the printed text in literature and the importance of manuscripts and printing in history.

During question time, the pro group was asked if they think that technological devices can replace books. They replied that books can never be replaced, however in the next generation using paper books will be limited. At the end of the debate there was a comment that really fascinated me, namely, that we are still learning to define the importance of printed books and the limitless resources that the world wide web and the technology can provide and how they interact with each other. The final vote was in favour of the “against” group and their support for paper books.

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