Students show interest in reading again

Students show interest in reading again

Gigi Gondoly, Assistant Editor

There’s no doubt that social media and the internet has taken over our lives. While there are a multitude of effects stemming from the exponential growth in the usage of online sites, a very notable change is the number of young people who still read for fun. According to the American Psychological Association, “In the late 1970s, 60 percent of 12th-graders said they read a book or magazine almost every day; by 2016, only 16 percent did.” Although this survey failed to mention the cause of this massive decline, the one major difference between the late 1970s and the late 2010s is the use of technology- specifically social media. The New York Times found that in the last two years alone, there has been a “17 percent increase in screen use among teen and tweens.”

Some solely accredit these technological advancements to a decrease in reading. However, there may be a chance that social media also has the ability to encourage young generations to pick up new reading habits by helping form positive virtual communities.

One community that has been able to connect over social media is the reading community. For instance, Tik Tok has developed a reading community where people share book recommendations, summaries, and even authors can keep readers up to date on what they’re working on. Dubbed the term “BookTok,” this online group works to gather like minded people and create a space to discuss and unpack different novels.

In addition, there are several social media sites that users can download specifically for finding new film, TV and book recommendations. One example is the app Likewise. The application allows users to input some of their favorite books and genres to generate a list of suggestions customized to their preferences. The site Goodreads also provides a way to find personalized book recommendations and other online sources including Libby and BookShelf offer access to downloadable virtual books.

In a small survey of female Milford High School students, 13 of the 18 students attested to using one of these online resources to find new books to read.

For some people, getting into reading outside of school can begin with finding a good author or genre. These social media reading communities tend to lend themselves to the fantasy, romance, and mystery genres. Senior Phoebe Stark said she enjoys reading books in the “mystery, romance, and fiction” categories and Junior Mira Kelley adds that her favorite is “mystery novels” as well.

While technology may help some students get into reading outside of school, others use books to limit their use of social media. “I am not a person who enjoys being on their phone,” comments Senior Reese Hefke, “so reading gives me an extra hobby to partake in.” Junior Natalie Ryszka agreed, saying that she reads “to get off her phone” too.

Although mobile devices can be a distraction, if used in a certain way they can provide many positive outcomes such as encouraging people to read or provide an outlet for people to talk about the latest page turner. With the number of kids and teens reading on a downward trend, it’s important to get younger generations engaged with books. By increasing time spent reading, found that it will “strengthen your brain, reduce stress and prevent age-related cognitive decline.” Even further, as Business Insider collected data on some of today’s most intelligent people including Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett, they found that “Most successful people credit reading, in some capacity, as a factor in their success.”