The need to find information and data nowadays is no longer synonymous with going to the library and opening many more books. Especially for Gen Z and Gen Alpha who have been surrounded by the development of the digital world since birth, one of which is social media. Even the library can be an unfamiliar place for them because they are more familiar with coworking spaces with high-speed internet access.
Talking about generations, we can’t help but be more open to the development of the world. I also just found out that Gen Z is the generation born in the late 1990s to early 2010s. They are currently 11 to 23 years old. Gen Z has also been nicknamed Global Generation and Generation Connected. After Gen Z, children born in this decade have been referred to as Gen Alpha. This generation is the first generation that was born and grew up in fully digital technology advancements. Undeniably, the world dubbed them as Digital Natives.
Born, grown and developed at different times must bring different habits and ways of life. Looking back twenty years, we and our parents are still familiar with printed newspapers and magazines. They also exchanged news via letters and communicated by telephone. Nowadays all mass media have migrated to digital version as well. Our parents who have become grandparents are now also familiar with e-news and reading through their gadgets even though in their daily life they are also technologically savvy.
The paperless trend is also changing the world. Not only in education, various sectors are also minimizing the use of paper. Receipts at ATMs, meal receipts at restaurants, salary slips, bills, forms all change faces in digital and online form. Environmentalists are also aggressively campaigning for the Go Paperless movement. By reducing the use of paper we are also saving the forest. According to the Petungsewu Wildlife Education Center, every 15 reams of A4 size paper will cut down a tree. Every 7000 copies of newspapers will consume ten or even more trees in the forest. Imagine, in a newspaper published how many trees are cut down to meet those needs.
I also remember that during college, flying lecturers, some of whom came from America, had invited their students to use only used paper when submitting assignments, writing revisions or making discussion reports. The rest they prefer files sent via email only. They also often tell about their culture which has increasingly turned to digital, one of which is in the paperless spirit.
In today’s world of education, printed books are still widely needed at various levels of education. Sometimes old references don’t have a digital version yet. Even though we are familiar with e-books, printed books are still an option because they feel more physical and there is a special feeling that is personal when holding the book. I feel happy vibes while reading the book, stroking the cover and opening the page. In addition, printed books provide more comfort when reading, especially for a long time.
Several high school students I met gave similar comments. They still choose printed and digital books in a balanced portion. Their ages are between 12 to 15 years. If they are classified according to their generation, they are included in Gen Z, which is actually already used to using digital technology. Reading teaching materials through digital is definitely using additional devices such as mobile phones, tablets or laptops by installing applications or programs.
This device certainly requires a battery and electrical power that cannot be used if the power goes out and the battery is low. In addition, downloading a lot of files also affects the memory capacity of the device. The new challenge is eye resistance for long screen time. Radiation exposure from gadgets has been widely shared and greatly affects the health of the sense of sight.
The advantages of digital books are durable, concise, practical and easy to carry everywhere. Imagine, if a student will carry 3 books as thick as 500 pages, it must be very heavy. But with technology, the book becomes lighter in the hand. When we need additional information, digital books are also ready to be a source of data. When we enter the keywords we need, a link will appear and we can immediately share it with others. How easy and a lot of work is done with technology. Currently many e-books can be downloaded for free or paid.
Digital books also help teachers and lecturers in the learning process. The existence of infographics, multimedia content and materials that are made as attractive as possible make students more comfortable accessing new knowledge. They also feel learning in a fun way because they use the latest technology.
Among the various advantages of digital books, however, digital books also have disadvantages. In addition to affecting eye health if you read too long, the challenge of rampant piracy is a risk for writers and publishers. E-book files are often published illegally and copy paste is rampant in an article.
The conclusion that can be drawn is that for elementary, middle and high school students, printed books are still needed, but digital books can only be used as additional references. Eye health and age-appropriate use of gadgets are also major considerations that must be considered. Instead of being a generation that grew up with technology, interaction between individuals has become very minimal. It is not uncommon for face-to-face communication when they meet between them to be ignored because each of them has the excitement of a smartphone in hand.