Apparently teens aren’t reading for fun any more. Gone are the days of heading to the library, or Amazon, and picking up a book for pure enjoyment. According to a new study by Common Sense Media, not only do reading rates decline as kids get older, but 45 percent of 17-year-olds admit they read by choice only once or twice a year.
In 1984, 8% of 13-year-olds and 9% of 17-year-olds said they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure. In 2014, that number had almost tripled, to 22% and 27%. Girls also tend to read more than boys, as 18% of boys say they read daily, while 30% of girls do.
Parents are also reading to their kids less than ever. In 1999, children ages 2 to 7 were read to for an average of 45 minutes per day. In 2013, that number had dropped to an average of just over 30 minutes per day. The researchers also found racial disparities: 75% of white children get read to every day, while only 66% of black children do and only 50% of Hispanic children. That disparity can translate into educational differences as well. In 2013, 46% of white fourth graders were reading proficient, while only 18% of black students and 20% of Hispanic students were reading at grade level. Those trends stayed roughly the same through eighth grade.
So what’s to blame for recreational reading? All fingers point to technology. We’re living in a Snapchat and Twitter type of world. Kids don’t have time to read anything more than 140 characters and actually write like “WTH LOLZ”.
Instead of giving a child the next new gadget, give them books and make them read throughout the week.