Landing : Athabascau University

Young people 'prefer to read on screen'

Report on large-scale UK study (35,000 participants, 8-16 year-olds) indicating that a majority of young people actively prefer to read from a screen. Some interesting takeways include:

"Of those surveyed, 52% preferred to read on screen compared with 32% who preferred print, with the remainder having no opinion or preferring not to read at all.

Researchers found that 39% of the young people read every day on computers and screens, compared with 28% who read each day using printed materials.

Technology is central to the lives of these youngsters - 97% reported having access to a computer and the internet at home, 77% said they had their own computer.

About a third were reading fiction on screen, with higher levels for those using tablet computers or e-readers.

And 23% of the youngsters read fiction on their smartphones.

But there has so far not been a complete shift to reading on screen, with 53% still reading novels in printed form.

The girls were more likely to read printed books than the boys - with both having similar levels of reading on screen."

Also indicates that this is a rapidly accelerating trend: 

A clearer pattern was visible with the readership of printed newspapers. This has tumbled from 46% in 2005 to 31% in this latest study. In contrast, there are now 41% of these young people who read news stories online.

Now that's a trend!

One interesting note of caution that reflects every study I have ever seen on the subject - desktop and laptop computers are a really bad way to read stuff, and tablets and ereaders (and perhaps the newer generations of larger cellphones) are essential for this to work well...

Younger children who read printed books as well as used computers were more likely to have higher reading levels than those who only read on screen, the study said. Although this gap did not apply to those children who used tablet computers or e-readers.




  • I have just been reading a newspaper article which shows the adverse effects of reading ussing tech gadgets like iphone, ipads etc. The author points out that there is "an increased risk of early myopia (short-sightedness) and computer vision syndrome in children who are heavy computer and smart phone users". The rest of the article can be found on this link:

    - charles mungo

    an unauthenticated user of the Landing May 19, 2013 - 4:44pm

  • An interesting article, though the fact that it is filed under 'opinion' in the newspaper in question is a clue that it may not be a definitive piece! The article cites no sources and uses a lot of the 'danger flag' words that calls into question its validity like 'researchers have unanimously agreed...'. I'm highly sceptical of its conclusions, especially given the job of its author.

    I'd be interested to read of any unambiguous or non-anecdotal evidence of a relationship between screen use in children and propensity to develop myopia, or at least an effect greater than that from reading a book or sewing (e.g. see Seang-Mei Saw, Wei-Han Chua, Ching-Ye Hong et al. Nearwork in Early-Onset Myopia. Invest Ophthal Vis Sci 2002; 43: 332–339). There are certainly some short-term effects and some issues with muscular fatigue etc (e.g. MARUMOTO, T., JONAI, H., VILLANUEVA, M. B. G., SOTOYAMA, M., & SAITO, S. (2003). A Case Report of Ophthalmologic Problems Associated with the Use of Information Technology among Young Students in Japan. InProceedings of the XVth Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association, August (pp. 24-29).), so taking a regular break as the article suggests is a very good idea if you want to avoid those. 

    Myopia and other ocular problems are indeed on the increase and seem to particularly affect those in cultures where high educational achievement is expected of children from an early age (e.g. and this might well be a cause of the alleged correlation. One main factor that seems to count is exposure to daylight - e.g. see - which may on average be lower among children who spend a lot of time reading, whether on screen or not.

    Any activity that we do a lot of the time will have observable physiological and psychological effects, but we must be wary of drawing strong conclusions from anecdotal 'common sense' data and look deeper into the reasons behind it, and consequences of it. The fact that people may spend more time looking at screens than they might for less engaging technologies like print may be an issue that could have further consequences.


    Jon Dron May 20, 2013 - 4:06am

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