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Screen Reading vs Book Reading For Children

Children BooksNew Research finds that children’s on-screen reading overtakes reading in print.

Research by the National Literacy Trust finds that for the first time children are reading more on computers and other electronic devices than they are reading books, magazines, newspapers and comics. While technology provides refreshing ways of engaging children in literature, the research found that children who only read on-screen are much less likely to be good readers than those who also read in print form. In addition, they are significantly less likely to enjoy reading. This points to a very real danger in cutting out books altogether, and Words for Life, the campaign for parents from the National Literacy Trust, is calling for parents to ensure their children have a healthy reading balance between both books and technological devices. The new research with 34,910 young people aged 8 to sixteen published by charity the National Literacy Trust reveals:

  • 39% of children and young people read daily using electronic devices including tablets and eReaders, but only 28% read printed materials daily. The number of children reading eBooks has doubled in the last two years (from 6% to 12%).
  • Children say they prefer to read on screen. Over half (52%) said they would rather read on electronic devices but only a third (32%) would rather read in print.
  • Nearly all children have access to a computer at home and 4 out of 10 now own a tablet or a smartphone, while 3 in 10 do not have a desk of their own.
  • Girls are significantly more likely than boys to read in print (68% vs 54%)
  • Girls are also more likely to read on a range of on-screen devices including mobile phones (67% girls vs. 60% boys), eReaders (84% girls vs. 69% boys), and tablets (70% girls vs. 67% boys).

The research examines the influence of this technology on children’s reading abilities and their enjoyment of reading. It found those who read daily only on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those who read daily in print or in print and on-screen (15.5% vs 26%). Those who read only on-screen are also three times less likely to enjoy reading very much (12% vs 51%) and a third less likely to have a favourite book (59% vs 77%).

Reading is good

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas said: “Our research confirms that technology is playing a central role in young people’s literacy development and reading choice. While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it’s crucial that reading in print is not cast aside. “We are concerned by our finding that children who only read on-screen are significantly less likely to enjoy reading and less likely to be strong readers. New technology clearly has a valuable part to play in literacy development, but we would encourage parents to ensure their children still read in print form if they are to become avid readers and reach their full potential in school. Parents can visit for advice, activities and booklists to help them support their children’s literacy development.” About Words for Life Words for Life is a campaign from the National Literacy Trust which gets parents involved with their children’s communication and literacy development and gives them confidence to feel they can make a positive difference. It is aimed at parents of children aged from birth to eleven. The National Literacy Trust are the only national charity dedicated to raising literacy levels in the UK. Their research and analysis makes them the leading authority on literacy. They run projects in the poorest communities, campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians and parents, and support schools.

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