In recent years, technology has changed the way we get our information. Print newspapers and magazines have been traded for tablets and smartphones. Letters for emails. Textbooks for ebooks. And encyclopedias for Google. Many people no longer have bookcases in their homes, opting instead for the convenience of carrying digital versions of their favorite stories in the palm of their hand. And there are endless videos of children confused about what to do when given a physical text.But as we continue to abandon paper for screens, one has to ask: Is it affecting the way we learn? Do we read—and remember—information differently now?More than two decades of research seems to indicate that yes, it is—and not in a good way. In the debate over paper or digital, it turns out paper is king when it comes to reading retention.”Skimming is the new reading,” said Maryanne Wolf, the director of Tufts University’s Center for Reading and Language Research and author of “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain.” “We are becoming more surface readers, neglecting the deeper information.”For a 2011 study by scientists at the University of Oregon, a group of 45 people were split into two groups. One half was asked to read the print edition of the New York Times and the other half the New York Times website. Those who read the print paper remembered significantly more of the news stories they read, and more of the topics and main points of those stories than the web group.There’s no reason to think that this effect is isolated to reading the news online. Imagine what you could be missing in books, essays magazines or letters.Digital DetrimentIt will come as no surprise that people tend to have shorter attention spans online. They lose interest or get distracted by something else on the screen. They scroll quickly down the page, scanning text instead of deeply reading it. In fact, most readers won’t even make it to the end of this article.Indeed, scrolling is a crucial difference between how we read in print and how we read on screens. The continuous nature of digital text makes it difficult to keep track of where you are in an article, which in turn impacts comprehension. During a 2013 study conducted in Norway, high school students on computers had more trouble recalling and relocating certain information in a document than those who read it on paper. The researchers concluded that the difference was likely due to the fact that on the computer, students could only see one page or portion of a page at a time. They therefore lacked visual context for determining where a piece of information was within the work. Someone holding an entire book in their hand, however, can use cues to remember how physically far into the text something is—for instance, on the upper portion of the right-hand page, about halfway into the book.To make matters worse, research has found that the layout of webpages can make them more mentally taxing to read, which can tire and even stress you out as you read.For Wolf and many researchers, the biggest concern is the gradual loss of skills like inference, analogy, deduction, induction, critical analysis, insight and novel thinking, which develop gradually over years of what Wolf calls “deep, focused reading.” Breezing through text on a screen gives us no chance to practice these skills—and new readers no chance to form them in the first place. Adults who went to school in a paper-based world already have these skills, but very young children who have read and played on screens since infancy may not.While the majority of studies conducted since the mid-1980s show that reading online is inferior to print, all is not lost. There are a few things you can do to improve your screen reading—the main one being to cut down on the number of distractions. E-readers like Kindle, for example, are more comparable to paper books since they don’t have advertisements or other reading suggestions crammed onto the pages. You can minimize distractions online with applications like Reading Glasses, a Google Chrome extension that blurs out everything but the text you’re trying to focus on. You may also try to divide your time online, so you’re not doing twelve things at once. Set aside time for email, time for social media, time for reading news and blogs, and so on.Some research indicates the more interactive and lifelike our technologies become—such as swiping your finger to turn a page instead of clicking a button—the better our digital reading speed and comprehension. And tech-based text does gain points for helping us develop multitasking skills. Scientists are hopeful that our reading styles will eventually adjust, but this could take decades, as technology adapts to us and we adapt to technology.”My hope is that as more and more people grow up reading on the screen, as more and more adults get used to reading on screens, we’ll slowly regain this ability to read deeply,” said Wolf. “The brain is plastic, it will be able to do that, but it has to learn how. It will take time.”MORE: Detox From Your Internet Addiction