Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Article: Does more technology equal less reading?

In the Tech and Learning, November 2, 2010 issue the article Does More Technology Equal Less Reading? Jumped out at me. I am an avid reader, and have often wondered about this. My son especially spends most of his time on the computer, ipod touch and DSi--and does not enjoy reading for pleasure. My daughter goes through phases, but lately she's been online more than not. She does, however, spend a good bit of this time on websites such as StoryBird--and with this, I take no issue.  The article states that research shows kids between the ages of six and seventeen spend more time texting or surfing than reading for fun. The authors quote a study done by Scholastic, "2010 Kids & Family Reading Report" which compares the percentages of time spent reading books, performing physical activities, and engaging with family, and how technology has stolen this time from these and other important activities.  However, that same study demonstrated that technology actually motivates children to read in different scenarios. A vast amount of students aged nine to seventeen report they would enjoy reading an e-book, and that they would actually be more likely to read using the same.

The report reads: While only 25% of kids have read a book on a digital device (including
computers), many more (57% of kids age 9-17) are interested in doing
so. When asked if they would read more books for fun if they had access
to eBooks, one-third of kids age 9-17 of kids said yes, including frequent
readers (34%), moderately frequent readers (36%), and even infrequent
readers (27%) http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/kfrr

Over the holidays my daughter (nine) asked me to go to the library for a book. They didn't have the book she wanted, so she wanted to go to the bookstore to buy it. I decided to first look on my NOOK to see if it was there. When I found it, I bought it immediately and surprised her with it. At first she was hesitant, and it took a long time for her to get used to the buttons and different feeling of the device. She ended up reading the entire book in two days and asked for another one. I did give in and ended up buying her two more. When we got to the third book, she asked if she could just "go back to reading real books". I honestly was shocked, but actually glad. Granted, she is a "reader", but I'm happy she didn't fall for this new "toy" as so many have. On the other hand, my four year old is reading because of her use of our IPAD. The games are easy to understand and fun to learn. She enjoys books, but I have a feeling she will be one of those who prefer technology to "real books". I'm not sure if I should do something to try to maintain balance--or just let it run it's course. I'm not sure what good this study does when there is still the issue of equal access to technology...and if it's a step in the right direction, or making excuses for kids who just don't want to read. I'm all for technology, and I do enjoy my Nook! However, how can we keep up? I've only had my device a few months, and there is already a much nicer version available. Is it that kids just want the newest "hot" thing, or is there something truly magical about reading something with virtual pages rather than paper ones? I have mixed feelings about this, but am glad the article got me thinking. By the time I'm in a classroom again, this query will most likely be moot anyway!

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