Thanks for the memories, paper

25th April 2014

Are you one of those people for whom information goes in one ear and out of the other? Well apparently, it’s even more likely to do that if you’re reading on email than on paper.

I’ve been looking over some research this week which showed that a message is more likely to be laid down in your long term memory by reading a hard copy of something than by browsing it online.

This tallies with a study reported in Scientific American (yes, my reading is wide and varied!)  that showed students who read texts in print scored significantly better on a reading comprehension test than students who read the texts digitally.

This ties in very well with our own research which showed that people were far more likely to spot mistakes in their energy bills when they received them on paper than if they read them online.

Paper bills and statements also appear to encourage consumers to take action, with a massive 82% of those who receive their bill by post checking them immediately on arrival, compared to 72% of those who receive their bills online. 

Those of us on the older end of the spectrum may think it sounds common sense to check your energy bills, as for most of our lives it was the way of the world to get a hard copy through the letterbox. But spare a thought for those such as students, newly left home, who have never been used to such a thing, and are now trying to manage their money using tablets and smartphones. These are very useful tools, but without previous training in such financial matters, they are exposed to losing control of their finances and risk being overcharged or getting into debt.

Our supporters MyBnk and pfeg do an excellent job of educating young people so that they have a firmer grip on the reality of managing their money. And they shouldn’t be charged for paper bills or statements containing the information that will be stored more easily in their memory banks and help them to understand and negotiate what can be a money minefield! 

Judith Donovan