E-books: A Psychological Effect in all Aspects of Our Life

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Willie Olsen
Nov 10, 2019
Nov 10 at 10:51pm

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E-books: A Psychological Effect in all Aspects of Our Life
E-books have become an essential yet damaging part of our lives. Not
only do they provide countless hours of recreation and entertainment
for people of all ages, but they have also become impactful in our
professional lives as well.

Employment- It is a realistic assumption that most professional fields in
existence have been affected by e-readers. White collar jobs like
doctors keep notes in surgery about the patient and the procedure for
quick access. Lawyers have access to an unlimited amount of past cases
to quote during trial. Bankers and loan officers have instant access to
resources like Kelly Blue Book
(Links to an external site.)
and mortgage rates. Blue Collar job’s
such as HVAC
(Links to an external site.)
(Heating and Air Conditioning) technicians use e-
readers to keep a track of jobs and materials, as well as invoicing.
Landscapers have access to resources like SLP (setting of landscape
plants), which is a state required course for a license. Repair
technicians make utilize e-book type touch screens to navigate very
complex commands, for instance, technicians who repair highly
specialized medical equipment. Even mechanics require the use of e-
readers because companies such as SnapOn
(Links to an external site.)
use a form of e-reader as
their diagnostic computer to ascertain vehicle codes needed for

Many companies have made the switch to a digital version of company
manuals and policy handbooks. They now also offer training through e-
books, making it easier than ever for employees to work on
professional development. In today’s world, employees simply don’t
have the time for training and studying of materials. In an article by
Thomas Madsen
(Links to an external site.)
, a study was sited that showed “employees can only
spare about 1% of their weekly time – on professional development.
That amounts to about 24 minutes a week”. Training through e-books
gives the employees flexibility to allow for training whenever they can.

Education- E-books simplify and enhance the overall learning
experience and has had a positive impact on the quality of education.
E-books make the learning process more interactive and engaging.
Digital learning content is some of the most exciting and potentially
impactful content to date. By utilizing the multi-faceted abilities of the
internet, the student working to earn a degree has more technology at
their disposal than ever before. From researching paper topics to
taking notes in class, e-books can successfully perform a plethora of
tasks which formerly required the student to spend unlimited hours at
the university library and manually taking notes. One of the most
engaging features for students is that e-books give the ease of
highlighting, annotating, and sharing notes with friends, tutors or study

Although e-books seem to have greatly enhanced our lives by making
our education and jobs easier, they have proven to be equally as

Digital Dementia – ‘Dementia’ is a term sadly all too familiar these days,
as instances soar of Alzheimer’s disease and other comparable
conditions all characterized by confusion, disorientation, and impaired
memory—literally a ‘loss of mind.’ However, the notion that an
analogous state might be linked to the screen lifestyle is as
controversial as it is potentially troubling.
“Digital Dementia” is a term coined by neuroscientist Manfred Spitzer
to describe an overuse of digital technology resulting in the breakdown
of cognitive abilities.1 Spitzer proposes that short-term memory
pathways will start to deteriorate from underuse if we overuse
technology. Although, in this blog, we have recently explored
outsourcing your memory to smartphones, these two concepts are
different—the mental disarray within the brain implied by the term
‘dementia’ is far more basic and complete. An under-practiced memory
process is far from being comparable to the wider cognitive
devastation that is dementia. (Susan Greenfield)
Loss of social skills – Children’s social skills may be declining as they have
less time for face-to-face interaction due to their increased use of digital
media, according to a UCLA psychology study. UCLA scientists found
that sixth graders who went five days without even glancing at a
smartphone, television or other digital screen did substantially better
at reading human emotions than sixth-graders from the same school
who continued to spend hours each day looking at their electronic

“Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education,
and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a
distinguished professor of psychology in the UCLA College and senior
author of the study. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing
the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the
costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen
interaction seems to be reducing social skills.” (Stewart Wolpert)

Social Isolation- What are the repercussions of social isolation in
teens? Research has shown that verbal conversations and face-to-face
communications decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental
health issues. Connecting with others through social media is not as
rewarding. Kids that feel socially isolated already may be more drawn
to social media, while also being more emotionally vulnerable to the
risks. An unbalanced portion of time online may contribute to:

Higher mortality rates. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh
report that kids that feel socially isolated have a higher rate of

Distractions. The frequent interruptions from pings and notifications
keeps teens engaged (or addicted) on social media sites, and distracts
teenagers (and adults) from being fully engaged in the present

Social comparison. Research suggests that using Facebook frequently
can increase the likelihood of unrealistic social comparisons and

Lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, self-esteem. The University of
Glasgow researched the potential influence of nighttime use of
technology on teenage sleep, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. The
study concluded that the nighttime use of social networking increased
the incidences of depression and anxiety.

Failing grades. Sleep disruption contributes to failing grades.

The list continues to grow as science and research reveals more and
more effects of the use of e-books on our psychological states. All of
these negative effects that have been revealed thus far beg the
question – How do we cope with the damaging effects of e-books,
whilst benefitting from the technological advantages?

What is the Dark Side of Print and Digital Publishing?

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The controversial topic of print and digital publishing has been an ongoing debate for years. Both methods can be harmful to the environment due to the unawareness of the disposal process of print and digital publishing.

How Is Paper created?

Since paper’s creation, the construction process has been misunderstood. Paper is nothing more than a dried compressed mat of plant fibers. To create paper from trees, the raw wood has to turn into pulp. According to  How Do You Make Paper From a Tree, “ The more commonly used method is chemical pulping, also known as “kraft.” Chemicals are used to separate lignin from the cellulose fibers, leaving a pulp mixture that can make stronger papers.” Once the pulp is finished preparing, it is placed in a roller machine to form paper.

Steps of Papermaking  

  1. Headbox: The soggy wet mass of pulp starts off here. It could be a mixture of wood pulp and recycled paper fibers.
  2. Mesh: Sometimes called the Fourdrinier table or wire, this is where most of the water from the pulp is removed and the paper slowly starts to form.
  3. Suction boxes: While some of the water drips through the mesh, more is removed by suction boxes (a bit like box-shaped vacuum cleaners designed to suck up water).
  4. Dandy roll: This large roller puts a watermark, pattern, or texture on the paper.
  5. Felt belt: The forming paper runs over a rotating felt belt that mops away further moisture.
  6. Dryer: The paper loops back and forth over more felt rollers and heated dryers.
  7. Calenders: The rollers at the very end smooth the paper, so it’s of completely uniform thickness.
  8. Paper roll: The paper is all finished and ready to use.

Is Print Harmful?

Print publications take a significant toll on the environment. In one year, the United States produces over 2 billion books. As a result, more than 32 million trees are burning to produce printed books. One tree can conceive 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,888.3 sheets.

Sora Davidson explains,

…the print industry is also one of the main contributors to the negative state of the environment as we know it today. There are many key environmental issues caused by the print industry. These include and are not limited to: air pollution, handling and disposing of hazardous materials, waste management, and energy use.

Trees hold a significant contribution to filtering out the air and absorbing odors. The printing industry tears down the filter by having to burn the trees, which causes air pollution. As a result, about 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide is being released back into the atmosphere.

Throughout the print industry, the toxic level of materials used is at an all-time high. Materials such as ink, fountain solution, solvent, and photographic chemical waste are hazardous to the health of the environment. According to Aaliyah Madadi, writer for Resource Hub, “printed books have the highest per-unit carbon footprint – which includes its raw materials, paper production, printing, shipping, and disposal – in the publishing sector.”

What is Digital Publishing?

Many people would probably assume that digital publishing emerged from the World Wide Web, this assumption would be wrong. Digital publishing was actually created b on July 4, 1971, by Michael Hart when Project Gutenberg began. The meaning of Digital publishing means different things due to people’s different perspectives. According to Digital Marketing Defined , “The use of digital technology to replace written material so that it can be disseminated and accessed through computerized electronic devices.”

Examples of Digital Publishing

  • Articles
  • Books
  • Journals
  • Blogs
  • Advertisements
  • Company Reports
  • Catalogs
  • Newsletters
  • Magazines
  • Advertisements

Benefits of Digital Publishing

While using digital publishing, the use of toxic chemicals is reducing. This method produces with speed and better quality. Therefore, digital content can always be issued out to the world at any time. If online publishers find errors such as incorrect dates, typos, or invalid information, editing and updating the content is easily able to achieve.

Ebooks Save Millions of Trees (Links to an external site.), “ In the USA in one year, 2 billion books are produced. To get the paper for these books requires consuming 32 million trees. We can estimate that one tree yields enough paper for 62.5 books.” Digital Publishing saves energy in book productions. As a result, money and fuel can be collected from not having to produce and ship books to other states and countries.

Is Digital Really Green?

Pro-print argues that the e-waste arising from digital publishing is harmful to the environment.E-waste holds toxic materials containing heavy metals, that can soak into the ground. Eventually, the e-waste can get into groundwater supplies affecting land and sea animals.

According to Madadi

  … while the creation of digital publications eliminates the destructive component of straining environmental resources, concerns are related to the CO2 emissions that occur during the manufacturing of technological products. Studies show that it is indeed tougher on the environment to create an iPad rather than printing a book, but the paper and water saved from reading content on tablets make up for the initial CO2 emissions. 

The estimated waste stream as of 2018 is 48.5 million tons. For instance, the more individuals buying electronic equipment, the more e-waste is growing.  E-waste has become the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. The electronic industry is continuously making new technology adds to the e-waste because the lifespan of electronics is short. Electronic devices such as computer equipment, stereos, televisions, and cellphones are apart of the contribution to e-waste.

E-books and sleep patterns

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Digital E-Readers and Sleep Patterns

From the time that printed books became available to the masses and not just a status symbol for the wealthy, people have been reading books before bedtime. The source of light when this habit was formed was a candle, and the medium by which books were written was paper and ink. Today there are a multitude of options whereby to obtain your reading material. The trending style of today comes in the form of an e-book, and e-reader. This electronic device is convenient but may come at a cost. A study from Harvard Medical (www.bbc.com/news/health-30574260) states “If you curl up under the duvet at bedtime to read then you are damaging your sleep and maybe your health”.
The human body has an internal clock (also known as your circadian rhythm) that has developed through millions of years of evolution. It tells our bodies to rest when the sun goes down and become active when the sun is out. Light regulates our sleep patterns by the production of a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. Melatonin levels decrease with exposure to light and increase in the dark. The light emitted from smartphones, e-readers and tablets shines at the same spectrum (around 460 to 480 nanometers) as the naturally occurring blue light spectrum produced by the sun that reduces the melatonin levels needed for a sound REM sleep (rapid eye movement). Our bodies naturally begin production of melatonin as the sun goes down. When we get into bed then turn on an electronic device, our eyes do not filter out the blue light, so we trick our bodies into thinking it is daytime. Melatonin production is slowed, and natural sleep patterns are disrupted.
The human body is in a constant state of cell replenish and replacement. The majority of healthy cell replacement is accomplished while we sleep. If adequate sleep is not obtained on a regular basis then we suffer from a multitude of degenerative diseases including, but not limited to arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, poor brain function, loss of alertness, increased anger, and decreased cell production. Lack of sleep also increases stress levels which can only exacerbate all of the conditions previously mentioned, thereby compounding the effects (www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency). Since melatonin is a hormone, too little can lead to increased anxiety and nervousness. Your hormones play a major role in your overall health and are directly correlated to sleep patterns, which are disrupted by electronic devices that emit a back lit display. Though there are sleep drugs and melatonin readily available at every local pharmacy and shopping center, there really is no substitute for an all-natural and well rested body. The overall psychological effect of the loss of sleep and its correlation with blue light rays is still undergoing further research, however the results are conclusive that back lit screens emit blue light and this blue light reduces melatonin and decreases sleep.
For the reader that truly enjoys the e-book and the convenience of a tablet as opposed to paper, there are very few companies that produce e-readers and have taken note of the sleep deprivation issues. But thankfully there are options available. The original Kendal does not use a back lit display. Instead the original Kendal by Amazon uses a type of digital paper technology that the human eye absorbs more like a candle and paper than a digital reader, thereby eliminating blue light waves. (www.Android.com) and (www.Googleplay.com) offer a multitude of light filtering apps. Such as their most popular app named Twilight @ (www.twilight.urbandroid.org). Apple company currently does not offer an app or a blue light filter. Instead if you are using an IOS device, you have the option to go into settings and dim the light or switch to nighttime mode. There are third party apps such as Koala Browser, recommended by (www.saferkid.com). Finally, there is Flux (www.justgetflux.com) which is an app that adjusts the displays color temperature according to location and time of day. It is designed to reduce eye strain and encourage better sleep patterns. If you still need additional assistance in blue light filtering, Baush and Lomb offers a pill trademarked “OCUVITE” (www.ocuvite.com) designed to strengthen and replenish the macular pigment that filters blue light. This pill contains seven eye nutrients including lutein, zeaxanthin, omega-3 and vitamin D, claiming more eye nutrients than any other Ocuvite vitamin.
The National Sleep Foundation suggests that both children and adults set a digital curfew. The suggested time is two hours before bedtime. However, researchers for the foundation state that even thirty minutes before bedtime is better than sitting in bed with an e-reader waiting to fall asleep. A natural paper book with a lamp and not an overhead light is the suggested reading configuration. The e-ink or kindle paperwhite (as opposed to the kindle fire) are a better choice. It is also suggested that you read something not work related or potentially stressful. Try not to scroll social media, or text before bed. Create a “sleep-positive bedroom environment”. Take a bit of time to let your mind clear from the day by reading something relaxing, a relaxed body is more susceptible to a productive night’s sleep.
If you are feeling relaxed and ready for bed, but cannot get to sleep when you lie down, and experience the feeling of your mind being in overdrive, you may be suffering from a decrease in melatonin. There a few steps you can take to naturally regulate your body back to normal. First, try to get outside early in the morning. This will decrease the production of melatonin so you will be ready to produce more when the sun goes down. Second, try to relax and slow down, avoid social media and begin healthy habits like showering and reading either paper or a non-blue light emitting device. Next, set a regular bedtime for yourself and stick to it. This will tell the body it is time to start producing melatonin. Set a bedtime alarm if necessary. Also, avoid exposure to triggers that keep you awake or stressed. Lastly, create a space that is void of loud jarring sounds.

E-Readers: Why and How

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The World of E-Readers 

Because reading is so incredibly easy to come by, machines dedicated for the sole purpose of reading have been invented. E-readers employ a technology referred to as electronic paper to emulate the look of a paper book as well as is possible. Most readers would say that it is hard to beat the look and feel of a real book, but e-readers are going to try. Readers on the fence about e-books stand to benefit from understanding what e-readers are and what they can do.

Reason for E-Readers 

According to Harvard Health Publishing, computer vision syndrome is indeed a real thing someone can get from spending too much time with their monitors/smartphones, and it can lead to two primary issues. One is dry eye, which can be easily treated by remembering to blink, and the other problem is eyestrain.

Eyestrain can be caused by Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) and Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) screens that are incredibly common. The issue lies in the fact that these screens emit blue light. All About Vision mentions the human eye is not feeble at blocking blue light. The light penetrates directly into the retina with little or no resistance while other lights such as ultraviolet are blocked from getting that far into the eye completely unfiltered. The incredible issue an Amazon search for blue light blocking glasses results in well-over 5,000 results. 

How E-Readers Work 

E-readers provide a way to read digital content without fear of retinal damage while also using significantly less power. Electronic paper’s presentation is different from the traditional monitors and smartphone screens because rather than backlit screens like LCD and LED, e-paper uses a technology described in the Wired article “Electronic Ink Will Be Everywhere in the Future”:  

An e-paper display is filled with really tiny ink capsules, which have electric charges. Some of the ink in each capsule is white, some are black. Using electrical fields, the display rearranges the ink to show different things on the screen…That rearranging takes a very small amount of power, but when it’s done, it shuts off. Keeping an image on the screen doesn’t require any power at all. 

E-Reader Advancements 

The e-reader technology is a bit behind by the standards of modern computer/smartphone screens. A big issue is the refresh rate for these screens. Ghosting  occurs when the previous image is still burned into the screen of an e-reader even after the page has been “turned.”

 As a result, these e-readers cannot display multimedia like videos or animations due to the nature of the technology and its intermittent use of power to change the image one time.

Increased Resolution 

In The Wired Shopper’s “Comparison of Kindle Paperwhite vs. Kindle”, shoppers can see that the original Kindle had pixels per inch (PPI) of about 167. The advancement made with the release of the Paperwhite, aside from being more like a white piece of paper in appearance, is the fact that it has 300 PPI. The more pixels a thing has, the more it is like looking at no pixels. Good E-Reader’s article “A Short History of E-Ink and the Ereader Revolution” mentions 600 PPI technology on the rise. Electronic paper is steadily becoming more like real paper in appearance.  

Color Displays 

A major issue in the history of e-readers has been color images. The ink capsule technology used in e-readers only allows for monochromatic colors much akin to a novel or newspaper; which, to be fair, is exactly the reason they were initially designed.

Color technology for electronic paper does exist, however, and it has been tackled in a variety of ways. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published an article on one method of color for electronic paper displays: “RGB-White (RGBW) color filter arrays (CFAs)” which are as exhausting to understand as they are to see in action. They use traditional red, green, and blue filters over the monochromatic screen to “filter” in colors to the screen. 

The E-Ink Triton 2 uses this technology to create these washed-out images. This is the world that Advanced Color Electronic Paper (ACeP) displays are addressing. The ACeP technology is taking a different route. According to the article from The Ebook Reader blog, instead of filtering the color, each cell has four pigments: cyan, magenta, yellow, and white. These colors can produce all eight primary colors, and consequently, can produce over 32,000 colors. The former CFA style of coloring only allowed for 4,096 colors. While that is workable, much like a 150 PPI display, it leaves plenty of room for improvement. 

E-Readers are here, and they are determined to only getting better. Although it may never be feasible to replace the look and feel of a favorite book, companies like E Ink are not going to stop trying.