“Aliteracy” is defined as “the quality or state of being able to read, but being uninterested in doing so.” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition)
Most students today tend to read on the Internet. For them, it will only take a few minutes to accomplish their work. On the other hand, adults still prefer finding information in books. To mark last November’s Reading Month by the Department of Education (DepEd), we ask, which of these two is better to fight aliteracy: the Internet or books?
The Internet makes things effortless, with no sweat at all, but consider some of its disadvantages. “Use of the Internet is a mixed blessing,” says the book “A Mind at a Time.” Learning how to find information can be very useful, but some students just “download information without really understanding or integrating it. Thus, the process runs the risk of becoming a new mode of passive learning, or perhaps even a way of acquiring plagiarizing skills.”
Also, a report from a German press agency said, “No monitor is as readable as printed paper.” Reading from paper results in significantly fewer mistakes and faster reading. Tests show that reading text on a monitor takes, on the average, 10 percent longer than text on paper.
Although the results improved when top-quality monitors with increased contrast and resolution and decreased flickering were used, they still did not match the results of reading from paper.
Dr. Bruno Bettelheim observed, “A good book at once stimulates and frees the mind,” which means that when you read a book, you yourself select the cast, set the stage, and direct the action.
Reading develops verbal skills, as one depends on a vocabulary, both to understand what is read and to reason as one writes, and there is no way to build up a good vocabulary except by using it.
The Internet does have its merits, too, however. It is a virtual treasure trove of information. Any kind of information on any topic under the sun is available on the Internet.
A balanced view is essential. Books and the Internet are two different media, each with inherent strengths and limitations. Each can be used—or abused. So whether you flip it or click it, exercise discrimination in what you read.