With the amount of text-lingo and Internet speak we use and read everyday, it’s no wonder how it might affect literacy of children and the quality of reading adults will have. And that’s a big OMG.
In a study by University College London (UCL), based on 11,000 children tracked from their births in 2000, found their time on social media could be detracting from reading and homework, with a potential knock-on effect on their literacy. (Telegraph UK)
“Communication skills in face-to-face situations have been on the decline since social media has become more widely used. Speaking and listening skills are often the forgotten literacy dexterities and students will struggle in work, school and personal relationships without them,” Professor Yvonne Kelly, director of UCL’s International Centre for Lifecourse Studies, said.
In other words, children are not reading books for pleasure anymore, much less have face-to-face conversations or engage in activities with other kids.
And this does not simply apply to kids, it’s also widely happening to the adults, too. With the growing influence of social media, its mobility, ease of use and speedy results, people have been preferring to scroll rather than turn the pages of a book.
Globally, users spend 2 hours and 15 minutes per day on social media or one third of their online time (GlobalWebIndex). And this is just the average. Charles Chu wrote on qz.com, “In the time you spend on social media each year, you could read 200 books.”
But of course, the Internet shouldn’t take the easy blame. According to Psychology Today, “Leisure reading has been in decline since the 1980’s, since well before the widespread adoption of the attractive distractions of tablets, smart phones, and laptop computers.”
“Social media is a large part of everybody’s life,” said Josh Loewen, digital marketing director of The Status Bureau, a digital marketing agency in Vancouver. “It’s how people communicate, look for events, notice stores and brands, and find the weather. It’s how people are aided in their daily life.”
So the problem isn’t the widespread availability of social media—it’s our behaviors and habits towards them. Reading isn’t only limited to books, too. We have the world in our hands, literally, through our mobile phones, where we can access a vast amount of information. We have the power to choose to either spend time taking a vapid online test to see which celebrity we look like or read about news, sports, or an opinion on a trending issue.
Then again, there’s also the age-old excuse of having no time and the need to do more important things. If you can scroll through Facebook while on the way home from work, why not use that time to read something worthy?
Reading enriches ones’ intellectual abilities and emotional sensibilities. It opens the mind and provide insights into human stories, problems, and influences attitudes and behavior. No matter what medium, may it be through your glowing screens or through old school book pages, we should keep the art of reading alive.