The digital age came with various digital distractions to change traditional preferences for leisure activities. Nowadays, children and young teens are more likely to spend their free time in front of a screen or catch up on their favorite shows. As a result, the love for reading has been declining in recent years.
A study found that 64% within the age group of 0-17 would rather play video games or watch TV. Moreover, smartphone and tablet usage for 5–10-year-olds has grown from 13% to 26%. The decline in reading for pleasure has raised important questions regarding their impact on literacy and cognitive development.
On the contrary, most of the young population has claimed that they could not indulge in leisure activities due to schoolwork pressure. They found it challenging to balance extracurricular activities, sports, and school to find time for reading. Hence, digital distractions became a means to escape since it was convenient.
However, others have stated that they could indulge in stories through ebooks and audiobooks. In particular, they preferred audiobooks as it allowed them to continue indulging in other activities. Reading helps build vocabulary, concentration, and focus. It also helps provide mental stimulation, reduce stress, and improve analytical writing.
In a recent survey conducted by the National Literacy Trust, fewer than one in three children between 8-18 years of age read for pleasure. The figure stood at 38% in 2015, which had dropped to 28% in 2023, with a 26% decline in reading.
One important reason for the decline in reading was parents’ behavior and upbringing. Parents view reading as a skill in developing children. As a result, they stop reading stories aloud to them when they learn to read by themselves. Unfortunately, it led to a fall in reading in children. Moreover, they perceived reading and schoolwork as a task rather than something they would enjoy.
Subsequently, a report published by Scholastic revealed that 83% of children enjoy stories when parents read them out to them. Therefore, you can ignite the love for reading in children if you continue to read them stories. You can also motivate them by book recommendations or let them decide on their next book. Children often feel the need for control during their developmental stage. As a result, it can motivate them to complete a book they choose by themselves.
Other reasons for the sharp decline were lack of representation and environmental factors. One in three children stated that they would like to read books if they represented them. They would also prefer books if they were gifted or recommended by friends and families. On the other hand, children felt discouraged to read when they did not have a quiet space in their homes. The survey highlighted that one in five children did not have a dedicated table, desk, or quiet area for reading.
On a positive note, parents and guardians are doing an excellent job of encouraging children to read more books. Recent studies have shown a rise of 8% in children who developed a habit of reading due to their parents’ influence. Reading is essential to help children grow their vocabulary, increase emotional intelligence, and become better decision-makers. It also helps the children enter a new world of adventure and fantasy fueled by their imaginations formed by words.