BBC: UK Children Are Choosing Technology Over Books

Fewer than 50% of UK children aged eight to 17 read a novel outside class every month, research suggests.

The National Literacy Trust survey of about 18,000 school children suggests youngsters are more likely to read text messages and emails than fiction, writes Hannah Richardson at the BBC.

Nearly one in five children have never been given a book as a present, according to the survey, which was carried out at 111 schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This finding was more common for boys than girls.

About one in eight claimed they had never been to a bookshop and 7% said they had never visited a library.

However, just under half said they enjoyed reading a lot. Only one in 10 said they did not like it at all.

Text messages, magazines, emails and websites were the top leisure reading choices of young people. But ebooks were read the least frequently.

Trust director Jonathan Douglas said he was worried the youngsters who did not for pleasure would “grow up to be the one in six adults who struggle with literacy”.

He said:

“Getting these children reading and helping them to love reading is the way to turn their lives around and give them new opportunities and aspirations.”

This comes at a time when acclaimed playwright Sir Tom Stoppard has spoke out at this apparent age where children’s love of reading risks being “swept away” by new technology in the home.

Stoppard said:

“I am aware, as everybody has to be, that there’s more competition for one’s attention nowadays. The printed word is no longer as in demand as when I was of the age of pupils or even at the age of the teachers teaching them.”

He said that children lived “in a world of technology” where the “moving image” took precedence over “the printed page”.

“I think that’s to the detriment,” he added, “I just don’t want the printed page to get swept away by that.”

The Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead author said that children had despite having access to a better curriculum than ever before, more awareness is needed to ensure the subject was appealing.

“I want to support the whole idea of the humanities and teaching the humanities as being something that even if it can’t be quantitatively measured as other subjects it’s as fundamental to all education,” he said.


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