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US study finds digital media has displaced reading for teens

In the US, the American Psychological Association (APA) has released a report showing that for teens, the time spent online has displaced the time spent engaging with ‘legacy media’ such as television, magazines and books, compared with teens from previous generations.

Researcher Jean Twenge and her team analysed survey data from over one million US high school students between 1976 and 2016. The data showed that in the late 1970s, 60% of year 12 students said they read a book or magazine almost every day, but by 2016 that number had dropped to 16%. In 2016, the number of year 12 students who said they didn’t read one book over the past year was triple the number of students who reported the same thing in the 1970s.

The researchers were surprised by the steep decline in reading over the years, despite digital media use increasing between 2006 and 2016. Twenge said, ‘It’s so convenient to read books and magazines on electronic devices like tablets … Yet reading has still declined precipitously.’

Gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status did not appear to affect the trends.

‘Being able to read long-form text is crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills. Democracies need informed voters and involved citizens who can think through issues, and that might be more difficult for people of all ages now that online information is the norm,’ said Twenge.

 

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Category: International news