The New York Times reports that a new study from Scholastic, the American publisher of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games novels, comes to some interesting conclusions regarding youth and e-books. The survey encompassed 2,000 children between the ages of 6 and 17, and their parents.
According to the survey, 25% of children had already read e-books, and 57% of those between 9 and 17 were interested in doing so. Only 6% of parents owned an e-reader, but 16% planned to get one within the next year, and 83% of these said they would allow or encourage their kids to use them.
But a number of parents were also concerned that multi-tasking, video gaming, texting, and other distractions of new media might have ruined their kids’ attention spans for a longer-form, slower-paced medium such as books—even e-books.
“My daughter can’t stop texting long enough to concentrate on a book,” said one parent surveyed, the mother of a 15-year-old in Texas.
Another survey participant, the mother of a 7-year-old Michigan boy, said, “I am afraid my son’s attention span will only include fast-moving ideas, and book reading will become boring to him.”
And over 50% of the parents expressed concern that the other attractions of digital devices might eventually entice kids away from reading.
Although the survey didn’t study whether these fears were grounded, one thing it did say was that kids were more likely to be frequent readers if their parents provided interesting books to read and set limits on the use of video games and other technology.
All in all, the study’s findings aren’t unexpected. It’s always been the case that kids who grow up with it are more comfortable with new technology than their parents who saw it get introduced. And kids love gadgets in general; if reading a book can be done through the use of a nifty new techno-toy, then they’ll happily read the book if it means getting to use the toy.
What I’ll be interested to see is what it means for the longer term: whether kids who are enticed into reading by digital gizmos remain recreational readers even into the future. But that’s going to be a matter for study in a much longer term.
(Found via eBookNewser.)