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Slow and Steady Studying

Reading Texts Is More Beneficial for Learning Than Watching Videos

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Reading texts and watching videos are two of the most common ways students learn. However, when it comes to opinions among students, watching videos is usually preferred to reading texts. Unless you are reading romance comedy novels, horror fictions or any other kinds of entertainment books of your interest, it is easy to find reading boring. For most students, reading is a task they are required to do in their class, something they would never do for fun. This is largely because of the common notion that videos are often linked to entertainment. Considering the educational benefits, however, reading should be more acknowledged.

Especially in history and science classes, one of the most crucial elements of lessons is details. Watching videos typically occur in a passive form, demanding the viewer to follow the pace of the video. Under this system, it becomes extremely easy to miss small details. As a result, viewers tend only to grasp the overall concept. Reading, however, helps the reader avoid this issue by allowing them to focus on multiple facts and details at their own pace. Most readers would likely have an experience reading a text and going back to the same section several times to fully understand it, and this is exactly what reading encourages students to do – to reread the information until they understand it.

Reading texts not only helps you develop an intricate understanding of a concept but also encourages a variety of brain activities. Unlike videos, texts require the reader to engage in learning actively, which fosters several brain skills that are important especially for young children whose brains are still in the process of developing. One of the skills that reading helps students work on is attention control. Researchers have found that reading increases the reader’s attention span by stimulating the prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for concentration, attention, decision-making and more. Despite the challenge that reading entails for the reader to stay focused, continuous engagement with this practice is crucial for the development of children as scholars.

In addition to increasing attention span, reading also helps the reader memorize the information absorbed. According to a research conducted in Spain among fourth through sixth graders, students who learned from texts were able to include twice as many inferences in their responses to videos than those who learned from videos, signifying that reading allows better memorization than watching videos. Unlike watching videos, reading demands constant focus, which leads the brain to exercise and make connections, thus improving memory. No matter what class you are in, your ultimate goal as a student is to retain the information you learned on the long term, and reading is exactly what you need to achieve the goal.

Still, a common agreement among most students is that watching videos offers a more enjoyable learning experience. While texts involve a limit on how creative and entertaining they can be, videos typically have more freedom and contain more fun and visually appealing features. Because of this flexibility, videos are more likely to spark curiosity among students, increasing their engagement with learning. This adds a huge advantage to learning from videos because when learning becomes entertaining, it reduces stress among students and therefore makes the process more sustainable.

However, a major flaw of learning from videos is that students can easily break from attention. As mentioned before, videos do not require as much focus, which makes viewers more likely to participate in another activity simultaneously. While this habit of multitasking may increase the efficiency of completing tasks that many students face, it is certainly not helpful for them to fully comprehend what they are learning since it is hard to balance the attention between two distinct activities.

There are special circumstances where watching videos over reading could be more beneficial, such as when a student is short on time to grasp an unimaginably large amount of materials through reading or needs a mental break from active learning for the brain. Generally, however, reading texts is much more useful as it helps students not only gain an integral understanding of a concept but also develop certain cognitive skills like attention and memory. For these benefits, students should prioritize reading over watching videos and incorporate reading into their studying habits.


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Andy Poll

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