This week marked the release of the bi-annual study of trends among kids and reading in the U.S. Some of the study’s findings are below:
- After age eight, more children go online daily than read books for fun daily.
- Two thirds of kids age 9-17 believe that within the next 10 years, most books which are read for
fun will be read digitally – either on a computer or on another kind of electronic device. Eighty-
seven percent of kids think people will be able to tag and share their favorite parts of books with others.
- 77% of kids age 9-17 believe that in the next ten years, people will have all their favorite books stored electronically on a computer or another electronic device just like a music playlist on an iPod. It will be like a personal electronic library.
- Two-thirds have read a book on a computer in the past year, and one-third had read one on a hand held device such as an e-book reader, iPhone, PSP, Blackberry, etc.
These findings merely underscore the conventional wisdom that kids born after 1990 expect to spend an increasing amount of time online, and take as a given that the web will be the source for nearly all of their information and entertainment as they enter adulthood. They started out with Gameboys and now they’re on iPhones. They like grazing, snacking and sharing, and this goes for their literary diet as well. Hence their penchant for portability.
Yet they’re not ready to give up on the dead tree format: they prefer books to digital versions by a 60-40 margin. In a few years, when e-books are as readily available as other content that kids are used to consuming on handheld devices, that ratio may well be inverted.
Sifting through the data for some positive trends, the Scholastic folks report the following:
- Nearly two in three online tweens and teens have extended the reading experience via the
- 37% of kids use the Internet to look for books in similar series
- 27% go to book and authors’ websites
- 18% go to websites with blogs about books or by authors
- 16% are posting on chatrooms and messageboards about the books they read
The study does not offer any crosstabs based on income level; it merely states that the average family income was $58,000, well above the poverty level. It would be helpful if the data was broken down this way to make some policy recommendations about bridging the digital divide.