Is the Pen Mightier than the Keyboard?
Distractions are the enemy of productivity, especially when trying to study important content that you need to pass tests or perform advanced tasks. Many schools are banning digital devices and returning to traditional pen on paper and textbooks—citing better student learning and social outcomes. There are many advantages to putting the screen aside and embracing handwritten and printed notes:
1) Increased Performance
Most people understand printed and written text better, and retain more information. Print readers also score higher in other areas (empathy, book immersion, and narrative understanding). One of the most effective ways to study and retain new information is to rewrite your notes by hand. That’s because putting pen to paper stimulates kinesthetic feedback and the brain’s Reticular Activating System (RAS). All people learn better when they perform physical actions with learning and have higher brain engagement. Reading and writing on paper make you smarter.
2) Less Distraction = Greater Focus
Digital readers tend to spend more time scanning for keywords than actually processing what they’re reading. With a print book, there’s no chance of getting distracted by links or losing hours on the internet. Study more efficiently with better focus and always remember, “distractions are the enemy of productivity.”
3) Improved Health
- Mental Health – Excessive use of digital devices in youth has been correlated with addiction, increased depression, higher chronic stress, attention deficit issues, delayed language development, irritability, delayed physical skill development and even obesity. FOMO (fear of missing out) often results in compulsively checking social media. A study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology concludes that there is a causal link between social media use and negative effects on well-being, primarily depression and loneliness.
- Setting the stage for sleep – reading from a screen or scrolling through social media on your phone are bad ideas. Even having a phone near your bed when you sleep is distracting. Study after study has shown that the blue light from your screen can alter your melatonin levels and circadian cycles, making it harder for you to fall asleep and making you feel less rested when you wake up. Better sleep = better health.
- Lower Eyestrain – Many jobs require staring at a computer screen all day, so it’s wise to give your eyes a break whenever you can. A study of 429 university students revealed that nearly half had complained of strained eyes after reading digitally. Electronic books can cause screen fatigue, which may lead to blurred vision, redness, dryness, and irritation.
- Slows Brain Aging – Writing by hand is a workout for your brain. Many physicians claim that the act of writing — which engages your motor skills, memory, and more — is a good cognitive exercise for people who want to keep their minds sharp as they age.
Did you know that a home library is associated with higher academic achievement and income? According to a study of 200,000+ readers from over 40 countries, students who have books at home are more likely to score higher on tests. It doesn’t matter how many books you have, but each additional book helps young people perform better in school. Researchers believe this is because having books at home encourages them to read for fun and talk about what they’ve learned, which only stands to benefit them in the classroom and later in life.
Writing by hand influences cognitive processes to slow you down and forge creativity and new ideas. One study even suggests writing by hand is more strongly linked to emotion processing compared to typing or swiping at a screen. One study found doodles made when note-taking and in periods of studying result in 29% more information retention. If you still want some digital options, consider a smartpen that allows you to write the text in a natural way. Smartpens stores the written contents as it is transferred to display devices.
Part of the Environment
Paper and pen, like a tree or a doorway, are recognized by your brain as part of the physical environment. Real physical structures are hard-wired to be recognized by your brain as a matter of survival and automatically make it easier for you to retain information and focus more easily.
An Environmental Choice
Paper has high recyclability, carbon storage, and a renewable primary raw material (wood, recycled and alternative fibres). Many phones and their components (batteries, cases etc.) require significant and environmentally damaging resources in their creation, and are often difficult at their end of use recycling.
It is important to remember, different learning strategies work better for different people! Online learning may work best for you and that is okay! No matter the method, we have the best tools to help support your studies.
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