However disheartening, it’s no surprise that today’s children spend far more time watching TV, surfing the web and playing on their cell phones than turning pages in a book. But the fact that the average young American spends nearly 92 times longer each day using media than reading is highly disturbing.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that youth between 15 and 19 spend only about 10 minutes reading each weekday and just five minutes reading each day during the weekend on average. On the flip side, eight to 18-year-olds are engaged in “entertainment media” TV, cell phones, the web, video games etc. a whooping seven hours and 38 minutes per DAY, The Kaiser Family Foundation found.
When I was a child, I would go to the library and take out 50 books on my cardmaxing it out– and then take out a few more on my mother’s card. My favorite TV shows were “Sesame Street” and “Reading Rainbow.” Sure, I liked to play mystery computer games and watch non-educational shows as well, but my parents limited the amount of time I was allowed to partake in such activities. I was allotted one hour per day sitting in front of a screen. But there was no block on readingso that’s what I did constantly.
Parents need to limit their kids’ screen time, considering that The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends just one to two hours of “quality programming” daily for those over the age of two. But such limits will only be effective if schools also contribute to the efforts. From first grade through high school, students spend nearly one third of their waking hours in school. Educators must recognize their potential to impact behaviors.
Recently, Education Week spoke with author Kelly Gallagher about his new book Readicide and what schools can do to counteract the phenomenon. He said that although trends in technology are a major factor, schools also need to tweak teaching practices to encourage reading. The problem, Gallagher says is the heavy emphasis on passing tests and academic reading, as opposed to “recreational reading.”