Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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How do we Read Online: The Effect of the Internet on Reading Behaviour

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posted on 2021-11-10, 10:00 authored by Herath, Channa

Purpose The purpose of this study is to explore online and offline reading and determine the differences between them while assessing the impact of the Internet and online environment on individuals' reading behaviour. Design/methodology/approach This study followed a sequential mixed-method approach and employed both qualitative and quantitative research methods. First, two focus groups were carried out to obtain a range of opinions on the topic and identify unforeseen areas. Subsequently, an online survey was applied to a representative sample of individuals from multiple countries. Findings People used different media for different purposes. They read a range of paper materials throughout the day in various locations to gain knowledge, for pleasure, for mood change, to escape, and out of obligation. They also read a range of online materials due to the availability of a large choice, efficiency, accessibility, low cost, up-to-date nature, and environmental considerations. The different media revealed different reading patterns. With an increasing amount of time spent on reading online, a screen based reading behaviour is emerging. Skim reading, scanning, and speed reading were evident while less time was spent on in depth reading leading to less comprehension and content absorption/recall levels. There was a lower attention span on online materials therefore less concentration was also identified. Reduced relaxation levels were evident therefore the majority of individuals printed online materials to read. Overall, the amount people read had increased over time due to the vast amount of reading materials. Research limitations/ implications Online reading strategies and skills are required to address the identified impacts. Future research can be extended to more scientific evidence to justify these findings. It would also be fascinating to examine how new additions to online reading devices influence or alter the online reading behaviour. Originality/value One of the few studies that analyses the impact of the online environment on individuals'  reading behaviour. In this sense, it provides a significant contribution to both academic literature and practitioners.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Masters Research Paper or Project



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management


Hooper, Val