Survey: Parents, Students, Teachers Prefer Paper Over Digital


A report by The Paper and Packaging Board explores the use of paper by parents, students and educators across the United States, the importance of its use for learning, and the various ways that paper is used — and the results show that despite education going digital, paper isn’t obsolete just yet.

The survey, The Annual Back-to-School Report, found that 91% of the US population use paper in some form on a daily basis.  Most often, that paper comes in the form of books.  According to the results, students aged 13-17 carry books most often at 68%.

The results show that 73% of college educators use paper on a daily basis, with 74% reporting that their students are more likely to pay attention if they take notes on paper rather than with a computer or tablet.  Of the K-12 teachers who responded, 80% said their students understood information presented on paper more so than information provided digitally.  And most parents, 76%, said they felt more comfortable helping their child complete homework assignments when they were given in paper format either as a handout, in a textbook, or as a paper craft rather than on a computer.

According to the report authors, paper is an important part of the learning process.  However, as digital technology becomes increasingly more popular, the value of using paper is questioned more frequently.

The report found three important conclusions concerning the relationship between paper and the learning process.  According to survey results, paper infiltrates our daily lives, as it is in constant use in some form or another in daily life.  For the world of education, that familiarity offers students equal access to information.

“Paper is a constant. Everyone alive today was born into a world with paper, and its simplicity and ubiquity is vital to our daily productivity.”

Survey results found that people generally prefer to use paper over digital technology, as many K-12 teachers said they enjoy sending (62%) and receiving (71%) greeting cards in paper form.  Those teachers also reported a preference for using paper for educational purposes, with 63% reporting making use of paper for learning.  Outside of the classroom, 92% of respondents said they enjoy reading physical books over digital formats.

The report found that paper is more often used for engagement in learning to create connections between students and teachers as well as between parents and children.  Most parents surveyed (98%) said they felt teachers should continue to teach learning aspects such as spelling without the use of spell check, as well as to teach the ability to navigate a paper textbook.

Lastly, the survey reported that paper is viewed as a pathway to success, as teachers report students are apt to perform better when using paper and students feeling they are likely to do better work when using paper resources.