Do tablets and e-readers inhibit reading comprehension?

While prior research has found that digital devices can prevent readers from absorbing text as well as the printed page, a new study counters that: researchers found that university students did equally well on reading comprehension tests when using both formats.

Announced Friday, research led by Jim Johnson of Indiana State University surveyed more than 200 students, with half of the students using an iPad2 to read a textbook chapter while the other half read from a printed textbook chapter. Subjects then took an open-book quiz with eight easy and eight moderate questions on the chapter.

"No matter what the format, no matter what the preference, they did well," Johnson said in a press release. "It was interesting that the gender didn't matter on the test scores."

Men had a mean score of 12.87 out of 16, while women had an average score of 13.60 out of 16. Students age 21 had an average score of 13.87 out of 16, while students age 25 and older had an average score of 13.5 out of 16.

He also found that there was no significant difference on test scores whether or not the participant had past experience using a tablet.

Of the subjects, 88 percent said they had read books on laptops, netbooks or desktops while 51 percent said they had used an iPad, iPhone or iPod to read books. Additionally 36.1 percent said they used a mobile phone to read digital texts.

When asked what they would like to use for reading, 69.1 percent said they would prefer an iPad, iPhone or iPod to read digital text and 68.7 percent said they would prefer a laptop, netbook or desktop computer. Only 48.1 percent said they would prefer using an e-book reader.