Monday, August 20, 2018

"A New Study Has Alarming Findings": Students today are not reading books

“A new study has alarming findings, but is probably not surprising to anyone who knows a teenager: [Students] today are texting, scrolling and using social media instead of reading books and magazines. In their free time, American adolescents are cradling their devices hours each day rather than losing themselves in print or long-form media, according to research published Monday by the American Psychological Association.
“In fact, 1 in 3 U.S. high school seniors did not read a book for pleasure in 2016. In the same time period, 82 percent of 12th-graders visited sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram every day.
“Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University and one of the authors of the study, said the lack of leisure reading is troubling. For her, the most important discovery hidden in the data is this statistic: In the 1970s, about 60 percent of high school seniors reported reading a book, magazine or newspaper every single day. Four decades later, in 2016, 16 percent of high school seniors reported doing so…
“The reason for the concern is that the skill set and attention it takes to digest concepts in long-form writing are quite different from glancing at a text message or status update, she said. ‘Reading long-form texts like books and magazine articles is really important for understanding complex ideas and for developing critical thinking skills,’ Twenge said...
The study, conducted by Twenge and two colleagues at San Diego State, Gabrielle Martin and Brian Spitzberg, is based on data culled through a survey project called Monitoring the Future that has been ongoing since 1975. Run by researchers at the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institutes of Health, Monitoring the Future surveys high school students across the nation quizzing them on their career plans and drug use, among other things.

“Twenge, Martin and Spitzberg analyzed self-reported reading habits of eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders between 1976 and 2016, representing a total of more than 1 million teenagers. The researchers compared high-schoolers’ consumption of ‘legacy media’ — books, newspapers and magazines — to their consumption of ‘digital media,’ which includes the Internet, cellphone texts, video games and social media sites.

“The decline in reading rates of legacy media began in the early 1980s and accelerated swiftly after the mid-2000s, when smartphones and high-speed Internet access became widely available. At the same time, high-schoolers’ screen time, including television, began to rise — nearly tripling between the late 1970s and the mid-2010s, according to the study.

“In 2016, 12th-graders reported devoting about six hours of their free time every day to digital media. Tenth-graders reported devoting five hours, and eighth-graders reporting devoting four hours.

“Twenge said she and her co-authors think that the trends are intertwined. The data shows that, given an hour to themselves, teens would rather pick up their devices than a book. ‘Does digital media displace the leisure time people once spent on legacy media? We find that the answer is yes,’ she said…”

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