Teens are reading less: Here’s what that means

By James Humes
November 13, 2018

In the era of smart phones, reading may seem ancient to many people, especially teens. Teens have become used to viewing screens and taking in information by way of short captions, videos or photos of their friends. Many smart phones users who engage in digital media would be hard-pressed to find a section of text longer than 100 words.

“Social media networks often contain pictures and videos, so I don’t really think of surfing social media as reading,” Cabrini student Nick Scaramuzza said.

Photo taken by James Humes.

Common Sense Media concluded that not only do reading rates decline with age for teens, but the past 30 years has shown an even worse cycle. Data has shown that the percent of teens reporting never reading for pleasure has tripled from nine to 27 percent.

This means that teens are not reading longer sections of text that would help them develop critical thinking habits or develop longer attention spans to learn in the classroom. PrepScholar fount that most recent SAT scores have reached the lowest scores since the test began in 1972. Most notably, the critical thinking sections of the SAT have been noticed in this downward trend, which raises many concerns.

“Students still borrow books but mainly for research, not pleasure.” librarian Cheryl Collins said

It has also been proven that teens aren’t just losing interest in books, but in other forms of entertainment as well. Teens today aren’t watching movies, reading magazines, reading newspapers and going out with friends as frequently as earlier generations have. These forms of entertainment many people around the world and without the interest of a younger generation, could cease to exist in certain circumstances.

The main threat to these forms of entertainment, and more importantly reading, are video games. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center concluded that 97 percent of teens play video games in one form or another.

“I go to the movies occasionally, but never read books. Playing video games and using social media are my main sources of media consumption.” Cabrini student Luke Kincade said.

These trends and habits may not seem like a big deal, but this is a large issue that should be addressed. The growth of digital media should be a catalyst for learning and developing the next generation for even more advancement in the future. Rather, digital media is deterring the potential of current teens and if this trend continues, not only will forms of entertainment become no more but many future adults will not possess critical thinking habits and an appreciation for knowledge.

James Humes

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