One third of teenagers have not read a book in the past year, new research suggests.
With social media taking up more and more of an adolescent’s time, just 16 percent of those aged between 17 and 18 read a book for pleasure every day, compared to 60 percent in the late 1970s, a study found today.
In addition, just two percent of 15-to-16 year olds read a newspaper daily, a decrease of 31 percent from the early 1990s, the research adds.
Results further suggest social media use among teenagers increased from an average of one to two hours a day between 2006 and 2016.
Lead author Dr Jean Twenge, from San Diego State University, said: ‘Compared with previous generations, teens in the 2010s spent more time online and less time with traditional media, such as books, magazines and television.
‘Time on digital media has displaced time once spent enjoying a book or watching TV.’
The researchers worry declining reading rates among teenagers will affect their performances at school due to them lacking the concentration to understand text books.
One third of teenagers have not read a book in the past year, new research suggests (stock)
SHOULD PEOPLE TAKE BREAKS FROM FACEBOOK?
Taking a five-day break from Facebook reduces a person’s stress levels, research suggested in April 2018.
Abstaining from the social-media site lowers the amount of the stress-hormone cortisol people produce, a study found.
Yet, the benefits may not be clear cut, with people reporting a reduced sense of wellbeing after not visiting the website for less than a week, with many being happy to check in again, the research adds.
Researchers believe quitting Facebook enables people to escape an overload of information but also cuts them off socially.
They wrote: ‘Our results suggest the typical Facebook user may occasionally find the large amount of social information available taxing and Facebook vacations could ameliorate this stress – at least in the short term.’
Results further suggest that while not visiting Facebook causes people’s cortisol levels to reduce, they do not report feeling any less stressed.
Study author Eric Vanman, from the University of Queensland, who frequently takes social-media breaks himself, said: ‘While participants in our study showed an improvement in physiological stress by giving up Facebook, they also reported lower feelings of wellbeing.
‘People said they felt more unsatisfied with their life and were looking forward to resuming their Facebook activity.
‘It seems that people take a break because they’re too stressed but return to Facebook whenever they feel unhappy because they have been cut off from their friends.
‘It then becomes stressful again after a while, so they take another break. And so on.’
How the research was carried out
The researchers analysed the results of the Monitoring the Future study, which surveys approximately 50,000 students aged 13-to-18 every year.
They assessed the findings of surveys carried out between 1976 and 2016, which included the results of more than one million teenagers.
The findings were published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture.
‘Reading has declined precipitously’
Between 2006 and 2016, social media use rose by 75 per cent among 15-year-olds to five hours a day.
The time spent online also increased by 68 percent for those aged between 13 and 14 to around four hours every day.
Dr Twenge said: ‘In the mid-2010s, the average American 12th-grader reported spending approximately two hours a day texting, just over two hours a day on the internet – which included gaming – and just under two hours a day on social media.
‘That’s a total of about six hours per day on just three digital media activities during their leisure time.’
The researchers were surprised by the decline in reading given how convenient it is to download books and magazines to tablets.
Dr Twenge said: ‘There’s no more going to the mailbox or the bookstore – you just download the magazine issue or book and start reading. Yet reading has still declined precipitously.’
Teens lack the concentration to read text books
Speaking of the impact on school performance, Dr Twenge added: ‘Think about how difficult it must be to read even five pages of an 800-page college textbook when you’ve been used to spending most of your time switching between one digital activity and another in a matter of seconds.
‘It really highlights the challenges students and faculty both face in the current era.
‘There’s no lack of intelligence among young people, but they do have less experience focusing for longer periods of time and reading long-form text.
‘Being able to read long-form text is crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills.’