Impact of eBooks: exploring student health implications within the literature

Year: 2019

Author: Thompson, Kate, Clifton, Jennifer, Williams, Ben, Marsden, Linda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In 2013, the Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment piloted a Bring Your Own ‘x’ (BYOx) program (2013) and since then, the adoption of BYOx has become more common. Partially in response, digital books are increasingly available through school libraries with a 2015 survey showing 55% of Australian schools included eBooks in their collection, compared to 20% in 2010 (Softlink, 2016). Many researchers have found benefits of eBook use to learning through the development of customised curriculum or improved engagement of students, and, improvements in literacy and language skills (e.g. Karemaker, Jelley, Clancy, & Sylva, 2017). However, there remains a lack of research on the health impacts of eBooks on students. Presented here is a preliminary critical literature review from a larger research project for the Queensland Department of Education (DoE) Impact of eBooks: exploring student health, learning and implications for policy and practiceproject. This presentation reports a review of 39 articles related to health and wellbeing.

Studies specifically focused on the relationship between health and wellbeing and eBooks are few. Within the body of work the greatest focus has been on vision; while those examining posture and biomechanics, sleep as well as rest and mental health are rarer. A noticeable exception is research by Seomun and colleagues who measured the impact of digital textbook use on a range of health-related factors on students in South Korea (Seomun et al., 2013). The literature review was used to identify gaps in the literature as well as trends concerning eBooks to inform the subsequent design of a research project that aims to provide stakeholders with reliable information to inform their choices around the opportunities provided by the increased availability and use of eBooks in schools.


Karemaker, A., Jelley, F., Clancy, C., & Sylva, K. (2017). The effects on children’s literacy skills of reading e-books with different features: Are ‘bells and whistles’ over-rated? International Journal of Child-Computer Interaction, 12, 30–36.

Queensland (Department of Education, Training and Employment) (2013). BYOx research project. The State of Queensland Brisbane. Retrieved from

Seomun, G., Lee, J.-A., Kim, E.-Y., Im, M., Kim, M., Park, S.-A., & Lee, Y. (2013). Health effects of digital textbooks on school-age children. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 35(9), 1184–1204.

Softlink. (2016). Softlink Australian School Library Survey: A five-year review.Access, 30(2), 26-32.