Gone are the days of teenagers spending their spare time engrossed in a novel, according to findings from a study conducted by the American Psychological Association.
As a matter of fact, 1 in 3 high school students in the US didn’t read a book for pleasure in 2016. Also, 82% of 12th graders regularly visited social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram in the same time period.
The lack of reading books is concerning. And today, we’re going to talk about how social networks have displaced books from our lives.
It’s No Longer a Top Priority
In the past 10 years or so, with the advent of social media, our lifestyles have transformed dramatically.
To a teen born in today’s age of the Internet, reading a book for fun doesn’t seem very exciting as most kids their age are already immersed in the world of social media.
Television used to be the king of digital media during the pre-internet era. Teenagers didn’t have many choices for watching things that would align with their likings. Therefore, spending downtime reading on topics they loved was very common.
However, things changed drastically after the arrival of the internet. As time went by, more people started using Google to learn how to detox knowledge and information, rather than reading books.
Don’t get us wrong here. The Internet might just be the greatest invention of the modern era. It has surely made our lives easier. However, the internet today is mostly influenced by social networks, which in many ways have veered from the key purpose of it.
Today’s generation prefers using social media over reading books because it seems more fun and they feel this sense of connection toward a community from which they’re accessing information. Little did the know, the information found on social networks is often unreliable—which normally isn’t the same for books.
Short Attention Span
With the entire world at your fingertips, you’re always multitasking and obtaining information from the internet faster—often at the cost of obtaining the full information.
Therefore, multitasking has slowly made us become more impatient, especially in terms of gathering knowledge. Instead of getting quality information and details on a specific topic, we scroll through several different pages on social media and end up receiving incomplete knowledge on a number of unnecessary topics.
To read a book, you must invest your time and fully focus on it. However, a short attention span, combined with impatience, might just be the reason why most people today favor quantity over quality.
One article posted on The New York Times regarding “The Eight-Second Attention Span” further discussed the short attention span of society and how this occurred.
We cannot solely blame social networks for this sudden decrease in attention span. However, giving unnecessary time to socializing in the virtual world versus spending some quality time in real life surely has its consequences.
Lack of Leisure Reading
“The lack of leisure reading is troubling,” said Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University. According to her, the most crucial discovery hidden in the data is the following statistic:
In the 1970s, nearly 90% of high school goers reported reading a book, newspaper, or magazine daily. Four decades later, 16% of high school students reported doing so in 2016.
This decline in reading books is troubling as the attention and skillset required to digest topics in long-form writing are significantly different from glancing at a status update on Facebook.
Reading long-form texts (e.g., books, magazines, articles, etc.) is vital for learning complex ideas and for improving critical thinking abilities.
The lack of effort makes the whole social media experience less rewarding.
We spend more hours on social networks than on reading books. We take more pleasure in technology than reading books. Therefore, our sole purpose is to bring the present vulnerable condition of reading habits into everyone’s attention.
Feel free to share this post with your friends and family members. Remember what Mark Twain said, “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
Spread the word.