Reading habit on the decline


Riyadh newspaper

IN February of last year, I wrote an article titled, ‘I do not read’, wherein I talked about the rate of people reading is on the decline because of the vast changes in our daily life habits. We are living in virtual reality more and sinking deep in social network.

In that article I talked about impression and shared some initial numbers, despite the fact that deep inside I believed that people are not reading anymore. Either way we need analyses and studies that either prove or deny this, and this what was done by this recent American study.

A recent study in psychology says, “one out of three American teenagers did not read a book in their free time in one year.” I believe that in this adolescence stage where concepts, convictions and traditions are formed and have the capacity to affect the rest of a person’s life.

The study, which was published in a specialized magazine and was shared with number of news sites, discussed the teen trend in the United States in the time between 1976-2016, at times when the digital media evolved, the television era started declining and the print media faced a near extinction.

The study concluded that the number of teenagers who read books, magazines or newspapers on a daily basis in the United States is less than 20 percent, while 80 percent of teenagers are using modern social media.

Personally, I am not asking to keep the rate of reading the way they are, because I understand the nature and the complexities of this stage, knowing that contents have changed and they are not in silent texts anymore. At the same time, I am afraid that with these changes, there will be no place for knowledge, studying and teaching against games and other timely alternatives. My worries maybe justified and maybe not.

Statistics show that the percentage of teens using digital media increased dramatically between the years 2006-16. Internet usage during free time for 12th grade students increased from two hours to the double. The time spent using Internet increased by 75 percent for students in the 10th grade, and by 68 percent between students in the 8th grade. The percentage of people reading books declined from 60 percent in the 70s of last century to 33 percent in the 90s of last century to as little as 2 percent in 2016. Traditional media did not drop the way reading dropped and it dropped from 22 percent in the 90s to 13 percent in 2016.