Teenagers’ reading habits are declining — should we read into it?

Today’s teenage generation has been brought up surrounded by one single stereotype: the so-called MTV generation. We’re all constantly glued to our phone and TV screens, the boys are addicted to video games and the girls prefer posting pictures of themselves on the Internet. Both could watch TV series all day and both could do without a book. How accurate is this stereotype?

Turns out most of them could actually do without a book. ‘The Kids & Family Reading Report’ found that only 24% of 12 to 14-year-olds read five to seven days a week. The percentage goes down to a mere 17% when it comes to 15 to 17-year-olds. And it may come as no surprise that 76% of the former visit social media websites on a daily basis.

Infographic credits: Amy Vieira

Not only that, but it seems that up-coming teenagers are being attracted to the screens too: 48% of six to eight-year-olds surveyed play on apps and 34% watch YouTube videos five to seven times a week.

Young adult, Frederico Mateus, 20, from Portugal said his reason for not reading was simply because he’d “rather spend it playing video games”, later saying that he doesn’t think it’s a bad thing.

Frederico Mateus, 20, voicing his opinion on his and teenagers’ reading habits

However, why is it that we get a sense of shock when we see the ever so decreasing number of active readers go further down year after year? Is it because we sense the judgement from older generations who were brought up solely on ‘print reading’? Or because the numbers actually do matter and we should be doing something about it?

Reading frequently has many great benefits: it develops you verbal abilities (especially for kids, it will greatly improve their vocabulary), it improves your focus and concentration, it enhances your imagination, it reduces stress and it’s entertaining! Not only that but research has shown that people who read for pleasure demonstrate a greater appetite to engage with stories, texts and learning.

In contrast to Frederico Mateus, Beatriz Lopes, 19, also from Portugal, thoroughly enjoys reading, admitting she’ll try and grab a book whenever she’s bored.

Beatriz Lopes, 19, discusses her reading preferences and teenagers’ reading habits

“A Song of Ice and Fire” inspired-TV hit show “Game of Thrones” certainly seems to have motivated a lot of teens to buy George R. R. Martin’s best-selling book series. Sales skyrocketed after the show premiered in 2011, selling 9 million copies in one year, with many teens and young adults believed to have contributed to this statistic. In contrast, the book series had “only” sold 5 million from the first book’s release till 2011.

Infographic credits: Amy Vieira

With nowadays’ teenagers apparently constantly glued to their screens, hit series “Game of Thrones” seems to have inspired a lot of them to take a break and read a book.

Out of both surveys previously mentioned, parents, teachers and even librarians all agreed that they need to discuss the apparent lack of reading and come up with a solution that could inspire both kids and teenagers to settle down and read for a while — whether its intention or not, truth is “Game of Thrones” TV series has inspired a lot of teenagers to do just that.

Maybe teenagers will end up being the ones resolving the issue after all.

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