Computers are great but may harm children’s ability to learn and score well on tests.  Recent studies from multiple countries showed strong evidence that students learn more with a book, paper, and pencil than with the same subject on the computer, especially if it is math or science-based. The ability to learn and retain information comes from the hand and eye movement working together with the brain for a kinesthetic effect.

The debate about whether learning on computers is as effective as using books and paper with pen/pencil has been ongoing for years, with both sides presenting strong arguments. Here’s a breakdown of the potential effects of each method:

Learning on computers:


  • Accessibility: Online resources offer vast amounts of information readily available and can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection.
  • Engagement: Interactive elements, multimedia content, and simulations can make learning more engaging and appealing.
  • Collaboration: Online platforms facilitate communication and group projects, fostering teamwork and information sharing.
  • Organization: Tools like note-taking apps and document management systems help organize information and stay on track.


  • Distraction: Computers offer endless distractions, from social media notifications to unrelated browsing, which can hinder focus and comprehension.
  • Multitasking: The ability to switch between tasks quickly can lead to shallow learning and hinder information retention.
  • Digital divide: Unequal access to technology and internet connectivity can create barriers to learning for some individuals.
  • Eye strain and health concerns: Extended screen time can cause eye strain, headaches, and other health issues.

Learning with books and paper:


  • Focus: Physical books limit distractions and encourage deeper reading and engagement with the material.
  • Retention: Studies suggest handwriting promotes information processing and improves recall compared to typing.
  • Personalization: Highlighting, annotating, and underlining in physical books are effective ways to engage with the content actively.
  • Accessibility: Books are generally more affordable and accessible than technology, especially in underserved communities.


  • Limited access: Finding specific information can be slower and more cumbersome than online searches.
  • Portability: Carrying large quantities of books can be inconvenient and physically demanding.
  • Organization: Managing physical notes and resources can be challenging, especially for large amounts of information.
  • Environmental impact: Production and disposal of paper can have negative environmental consequences.

Ultimately, the best learning method depends on individual preferences, learning styles, and specific needs. Some people may benefit from the interactivity and accessibility of computers, while others may find deeper focus and information retention with traditional books and paper.

It’s worth noting that:

  • Many educators advocate for a blended approach that utilizes both digital and traditional learning methods, leveraging the strengths of each to create a more engaging and effective learning experience.
  • Personal experimentation is key to discovering what works best for each individual student.