A new study published in the Scientific Reports journal indicates that, contrary to traditional beliefs, enjoying your daily dose of reading is no better for your well-being than watching TV.
The study was prompted by the over-dependence on the media recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown. It tackles the myth that traditional means of entertainment like reading books are better than using new media types, at least when it comes to our overall sense of well-being.
To explore the effects of traditional vs. modern media forms, collaborative research teams from the UK and Austria monitored 2,200 participants’ media use for six weeks.
Shifting them on a weekly basis, participants were using either ebooks, TV, music, video games, (digital) magazines, or audiobooks, or going entirely without media during leisure time.
At the end of each week, scientists assessed the participants’ happiness and anxiety levels based on their reports. Namely, no noticeable differences originated from the type of media they used to make them feel better (or worse).
It was also stated that, in general, those using TV, music, or video games were slightly more anxious and unhappy than those who didn’t. However, the differences in a person’s sense of well-being were almost indiscernible.
Actually, the most significant difference was observed between different participants rather than within the same person.
Furthermore, the most significant shift in the momentary feelings of satisfaction was noted between the times when a participant used and didn’t use any available media to pass the time.
So, when it comes to happiness and contentment, reading books doesn’t seem to be any better than a session of video games. Still, this doesn’t mean we’re supposed to neglect various other benefits of reading, such as reducing the risk of mental decline in old age.