People might have an easier time remembering something if they read it in a magazine, newspaper or some other type of printed document rather than from an online source. Researchers from the University of Houston learned this recently through a study of college students. Participants were asked to not consume any news prior to the study. They were then divided into two groups – one that gathered recent news from the Internet and the other from newspapers – here's what they found.
Newspaper wins over Web
When students were asked to recall news stories from the New York Times paper edition and digital version, the group who had the newspapers were able to recall on average 4.24 stories and the ones who read it online were able to remember an average of 3.35 stories. Since the experiment used the same exact news source, it's likely that the medium is responsible for recollection. Following the study, assistant professor Arthur Santana from the University of Houston summed up the results.
"Online readers are apt to acquire less information about the news than print readers because of the lack of salience cues. Since online story placement and prominence are in a constant state of flux, readers are less apt to register which are the important stories of the day." In this way, part of the agenda-setting function of the print newspaper is lost in the online version, Santana said.
Internet scrambles story importance
Newspapers have always posted the top stories of the day on the front page. While online versions of the same publications typically tend to have a "first page" with the most viewed/ prominent stories of the day, the reader can easily navigate away form the original format and get lost in a different section. It's not to say that the reader doesn't know how to get back to the first page but rather that it's easier to get away from it with all of the clicking around and search bar options.
Digital promotes laziness
What's more, Santana explained that the Internet's easy accessibility can hinder a person's desire to recall more information. Someone can quickly enter a question into a Google search bar and find an answer within seconds. The mind knows that this function is available so it might be less prone to recall information via the Web. People might not feel the urgency to remember it because it is so easily retrievable.
Many other journalists and researchers have delved into the topic of laziness and the Internet in general, not just in the context of reading. UK publication the Business Zone explained that the way people behave, think and speak are all linked to the Internet and Google. These technological advances can negatively impact memory and make the body more reliant on search engine databases.
Internet full of distractions
No to mention, reading a piece of content on a website can be more of a challenge because there are so many obstacles. At any given moment, a pop-up window or advertisement can distract you from what you're learning about and prompt you to do something else for a few minutes. If you've ever read an online newspaper or magazine, you've probably encountered a screen that asks you to sign up for a subscription. Although it's usually a quick distraction, it can take away from your overall experience.
Looking ahead, this research could mean that businesses and other institutions could benefit more from providing printed materials over digital ones. Entrepreneurs would be wise to consider these factors when constructing a marketing strategy. Getting consumers to remember content and information on a product or service is the first step to earning their trust and business.