New Study on Reading in the Digital Age: Parents Say Electronic, Digital Devices Negatively Affects Kids' Reading Time
New York, NY — September 29, 2010 — In the 2010 Kids and Family Reading Report™, a national survey released today, children age 6 – 17 and their parents share their views on a wide range of topics regarding reading in the 21st Century.
The study, conducted by Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, and Harrison Group, a leading marketing and strategic research consulting firm, found that from age 6 - 17, the time kids spend reading books for fun declines while the time kids spend going online for fun and using a cell phone to text or talk increases. Parents express 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%).
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%).
The findings from the Kids and Family Reading Report indicate that the ebook market will continue to grow. While only 6% of parents surveyed currently own an electronic device used for reading eBooks and other digital publications, 16% plan to purchase one in the next year. And parents are not hesitant to share those devices with their children – approximately 8 in 10 (83%) of these parents say they do or will allow/encourage their child to use their eReading device.
"While parents understandably have concerns about the amount of time their kids are spending on electronic or digital devices, ebooks offer a way to get more kids reading and kids reading more," said Francie Alexander, Chief Academic Officer. "If we can meet kids where they are and get a third of all kids, many of them struggling readers, to spend more time reading for fun on eBooks, that additional time spent building fluency and vocabulary will not only help them become more proficient at reading, but will help prepare them to tackle more complex texts that they will encounter in high school and college."
Eighty-four percent of parents acknowledge that today's kids have to know how to handle far more information than parents did when they were children. Yet one disturbing statistic suggests a need to strengthen the critical thinking skills of today's children -- 39% of kids (age 9-17) agree with the statement, "The information I find online is always correct."
Alexander continued, "Clearly there is a big role for parents and teachers to play in helping kids become better critical thinkers today starting at an early age given that the study found that among children age 9-11, nearly half believe everything they read online."
The study also reveals that today's children have a broad view of what constitutes reading: 25% of kids (age 9-17) think texting back and forth with friends counts as reading. Most parents don't agree – only 8% of parents count texting as reading.
The report found that the power of choice is a key factor in raising a reader. Nine out of ten children say that they are more likely to finish book they choose themselves. And parents don’t try to overly influence that choice toward award winners or classic literature. Nine out of 10 parents say "As long as my child is reading, I just want my child to read books he/she likes."
And despite the pull of technology, kids still embrace printed books. 66% of kids (ages 9 – 17) agree with the statement, "I'll always want to read books printed on paper even though there are ebooks available."
The study also looked into the way parents encourage their kids to read more often. While putting limits on technology is one way that many children say their parents have used to encourage them to read more frequently, the study showed it to work best for children ages 9-11. For older kids, parents used other tactics including making sure there are interesting books in the home (effective for kids age 9-11, 15-17) and suggesting books they might like (effective for kids age 12-14).
The full 2010 The Kids & Family Reading Report is available online at http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/kfrr.
A few additional findings from the survey:
- 28% of kids (ages 9-17) think that looking through postings or comments on social networking sites like Facebook counts as reading; only 15% of parents agree.
- 25% of kids (ages 6-17) have read a book on a digital device (the majority on a computer or laptop/netbook).
- 43% of kids and parents say that, when reading books for fun, it is most important for children’s imagination to be expanded, while about a third say the most important outcome is for children to gain inspiration through characters and storylines (36% kids/35% parents), with about one in five saying it is to gain information (21% kids/22% parents).
- 86% of kids feel proud and have a sense of accomplishment when they finish reading a book.
- Only 50% of kids say reading books for fun is extremely or very important; compared to 89% of parents.
- 71% of parents wish their child would read more books for fun. 75% of children (ages 9-17) say they know they should read more.
Methodology: This study was conducted by Scholastic, in conjunction with Quinley Research and Harrison Group in the Spring, 2010. It surveyed 1,045 children age 6-17 and their parents (for a total of 2,090 respondents) online, using Knowledge Networks nationally representative panel.
About Harrison Group: Harrison Group, a YouGov company, is one of the country's leading marketing and strategic research consulting firms. Headquartered in Waterbury, Connecticut, the firm specializes in youth trends, education research, technology trends, branding and communications research, business consulting and market modeling for some of America's top corporations, including retailers, financial services firms, packaged goods companies, and interactive entertainment companies. For more information, please visit www.harrisongroupinc.com and http://corp.yougov.com.
About Scholastic: Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children's media. Scholastic creates quality books, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com.