Reading and Technology: A Study from Scholastic, Inc.

This month in my newsletter I referred to a recent study by Scholastic, Inc. that discovered a few interesting things about kids, reading, and their parents’ concerns about technology. The Scholastic Study found that from age 6 – 17, the time kids spend reading books for fun declines, while the time they spend going online for fun and using a cell phone to text or talk increases.

In the same study, parents expressed “concern that the use of electronic and digital devices negatively affects the time kids spend reading books (41%), doing physical activities (40%), and engaging with family (33%).”

But what is surprising is that more time with technology doesn’t have to point to a decline in reading. Scholastic says “the study also found indications that technology could be a positive motivator to get kids reading — 57 percent of kids (age 9-17) say they are interested in reading an eBook, and a third of children age 9-17 say they would read more books for fun if they had access to eBooks on an electronic device. This includes kids who read 5-7 days per week (34%), 1 to 4 days per week (36%) and even those who read less than one day per week (27%).”

While I’m still happily turning paper pages in bound books, and so are my daughters, I’m optimistic that reading devices of many kinds can actually increase reading and possibly have a positive effect on literacy. My local library is betting on that too. They are now holding classes that let people test-drive several models of e-readers before they decide if they want to buy one. They also feature Library2Go, a service in Oregon that lets patrons download books to an e-reader. As with regular library books, the electronic versions have a due date and disappear off the device when that date comes around. The library is also experimenting with a system that would allow patrons to check out e-readers.

It’s hard to imagine all this will go away even if some of us will hold onto paper and ink books until they are pried out of our cold, dead hands. As much as I love the physical aspects of a book, I’m not actively against e-readers. I’ve even added an iPad (gotta love Apple!) to my gift wish list this year, so I may soon get to see for myself how reading with technology will affect my reading habits.

Read more about the Scholastic study at their website.

Read a blog post by author Christina Katz as she reflects on how technology has and has not changed her reading habits.

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