Children's reading and the impact of technology

Jun 2014
Children's reading and the impact of technology
39% of children and young people read daily using electronic devices

Children's reading is often a focus for parents, schools and the wider education sector. We know that reading for pleasure is important in developing good literacy skills and we've also known for a long time that children and young people are increasingly using technology for a wide range of activities.

For the first time last year, research showed that children are reading more on computers and other electronic devices than they are reading printed books, magazines, newspapers and comics. However, research shows that those who read daily only on-screen are much less likely to be good readers than those who read in print.

National Literacy Trust research shows:

  • 39% of children and young people read daily using electronic devices including tablets and eReaders, but only 28% read printed materials daily.

  • Children say they prefer to read on screen. Over half (52%) said they would rather read on electronic devices but only a third (32%) would rather read in print.

  • Nearly all children have access to a computer at home and 4 out of 10 now own a tablet or a smartphone, while 3 in 10 do not have a desk of their own.

  • Girls are significantly more likely than boys to read in print (68% vs 54%)

  • Girls are also more likely to read on a range of on-screen devices including mobile phones (67% girls vs. 60% boys), eReaders (84% girls vs. 69% boys), and tablets (70% girls vs. 67% boys).

The research examines the influence of this technology on children's reading abilities and their enjoyment of reading. It found those who read daily only on-screen are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those who read daily in print or in print and on-screen (15.5% vs 26%). Those who read only on-screen are also three times less likely to enjoy reading very much (12% vs 51%) and a third less likely to have a favourite book (59% vs 77%).

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas said:

"Technology is playing a central role in young people's literacy development and reading choice. While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it's crucial that reading in print is not cast aside.

"We are concerned by our finding that children who only read on-screen are significantly less likely to enjoy reading and less likely to be strong readers. Good reading skills and reading for pleasure are closely linked to children's success at school and beyond. We need to encourage children to become avid readers, whatever format they choose."

The Kumon English Programme nurtures a lifelong habit of reading for both education and enjoyment. Students learn to summarise and critique a wide range of texts and are encouraged to supplement their daily worksheet study with a book from the Kumon Recommended Reading List.