Sunday, October 06, 2013

Are Children Reading Enough These Days?

Research firm Nielsen Book recently conducted a survey of 2,000 British children and parents, and found that 50% of households now own a tablet (up 24% from last year), and that children are spending less time reading.

The study also reports that 32% of children read for pleasure on a daily basis and 60% read for pleasure on a weekly basis, which seems not too bad on the surface, however, the study suggests that there are warning signs for the future.

You won’t be surprised to learn that more children are spending time playing games apps and watching YouTube than reading. In fact, reading time was down nearly 8 percentage points from the previous year. The Nielson study suggests that there is a significant increase in the number of non-readers or occasional readers, compared with heavy readers. By the way, The Guardian article defines the different categories of readers. Also alarming is that the children appear to be dropping art, hobbies, and other extracurricular activities for more game time. This is particularly prevalent in the 11-17 age group.

Here’s an interesting comparison. In the 2012, study, Nielson Book asked children if they would like to read e-books. 21% said they already were and 38% stated that they wanted to. In 2013, 33% indicated that they were already reading digitally, while 28% said they would like to. So, maybe it’s not all bad. It appears that, given access to e-books, kids will read them. The article notes that parental influence plays a huge role in ensuring that kids adopt regular reading habits, and suggests that many parents could do more to help engage their children in reading.

One of the other points made is that this would be a great time to use video to talk about books, review books, and even form online book clubs for kids. These venues probably already exist somewhere, but might not be prevalent yet. The good news is that kids don’t seem to think that reading is less cool. It’s just that there’s too many other distractions. I’d say the same is probably true for adults.

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