Children’s publishers Scholastic just released a study – also covered by Laura Owen over at GigaOM – that examines the reading habits of children. While many of the trends are not entirely surprising — kids are reading more ebooks, and they still like print — some of the data is interesting, particularly as it pertains to how e-reading and technology may be effecting the boys and girls differently.
Girls are generally earlier and more frequent readers, and it appears technology may be proving more of a distraction for them when it comes to reading. According to the study, there has been a decline in both frequent readers (from 42 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2012) and also reading enjoyment (the number of girls who say they “love reading” has gone from 39 percent in 2010 to 32 percent in 2012).
The reason? While exact causality is impossible to determine with 100 percent certainty, the rise of social streams and gadgets may have something to do with it. According to the study, girls aged 12–17 are spending more time on social networks and smartphones. While it may not be all due to the technology around them, I would not be surprised if girls are falling prey to the same distraction culture plaguing their parents.
And what about boys? Interestingly, the study finds that reading enjoyment has actually gone up in the past couple of years among boys, with love of reading going from 20 percent in 2010 to 26 percent today. The study also finds that one in four boys who have read an ebook say they are now reading more books for fun.
Is it possible that the age of electronics is impacting the genders differently? Perhaps, and perhaps not. Of course, it may just be that boys have been fighting distraction on another front for longer — boys tend be more avid video game players — while girls, who as a whole tend to be more socially oriented, are being more adversely impacted by the distraction of social networking.
Either way, the study is well worth looking at (it’s a free download) to better understand how young people’s reading habits are changing in the age of ebooks, tablets, and social media.