Impact of Digital Media on Children’s Reading Habits

Children and teens today are reading less than ever, and digital media plays a significant role. A study by Associate Professor Leonie Rutherford found that “amid the digital environment, younger readers have difficulty finding a book they would like to read, causing them to read less.”

In another study 350 teachers in Australia and other countries were asked about the impact of digital media on their students’ reading. 89% of respondents said social media has negatively affected children’s reading habits. 84% said digital media has made students less willing to read for pleasure. 

Kids who don’t read on their own are at risk of falling behind in key areas. Their reading may be less fluent readers, and their comprehension skills may not be as advanced as children who read on their own. Writing skills can also be impacted as students learn to write well by reading quality books. 

Below we consider why digital media has negatively impacted reading habits, and how parents can encourage kids to read more at home. 

Increased Distractions 

One of the most noticeable effects of digital media is the increase in distractions. Children today are bombarded with a wide range of digital entertainment options, from video games and social media to YouTube videos and streaming services.

With so much competing for their attention, it’s no wonder that traditional reading often takes a backseat.

Shortened Attention Spans 

Digital media has also led to shorter attention spans. Social media platforms and video-sharing websites thrive on quick, easily digestible content. Children get used to consuming information in bite-sized pieces, making it challenging for them to focus on longer texts like books or even full-length articles.

This shift in attention span can hinder their ability to engage with stories and narratives that require sustained focus.

Instant Gratification 

It’s well known that social media creates a craving for instant gratification. Receiving likes and immediate responses to posts releases the feel-good chemical dopamine in the brain, making kids want more. Playing games and using interactive features is highly stimulating. Reading on the other hand offers different rewards. It can take time for a story to build, and much pleasure is derived from thinking about the questions and issues raised.

In today’s digital world, many children lack the patience needed to discover the rich joys of reading.

How Parents Can Help 

Despite the distractions, digital media isn’t all bad news for children’s reading habits. In fact, it has opened up new possibilities for engaging young readers. E-books and reading apps, for instance, offer interactive features that can make reading more enjoyable. 

Digital media also provides easier access to a wider range of reading material. Online libraries and e-book platforms offer a vast selection of books, often at a lower cost than physical copies. This means that children have more opportunities to discover books they love, from classic literature to the latest bestsellers. 

These suggestions can help you find the right balance between digital media and traditional books.

  • Set Screen Time Limits: Limit how much time kids spend on digital devices. This encourages them to do other things, like reading books.
  • Create a Reading Routine: Make reading a regular part of the day. This could be before bedtime or during a quiet time in the afternoon.
  • Be a Reading Role Model: If kids see adults enjoying books, they’re more likely to read, too. Share what you’re reading or read together as a family.
  • Make Reading Fun: Find engaging books that match a child’s interests, whether it’s sports, animals, or adventure stories. When reading is fun, kids will want to do it more.
  • Visit Libraries and Bookstores: Take kids to places where books are the focus. Let them choose books they like. This can spark excitement about reading.
  • Encourage Traditional Books: While e-books can be great, reading physical books can help kids focus better and avoid digital distractions. Research has found that physical books encourage deeper levels of comprehension. 
  • Use Reading Apps Wisely: If you use digital media for reading, choose apps that promote learning and don’t have too many distractions like ads or games.
  • Join a Book Club or Reading Group: This can make reading a social activity, giving kids a chance to discuss what they’re reading with others.

The Tutor Doctor Difference 

At Tutor Doctor, we recognise how important strong reading skills are for academic success. We will work with your student to identify learning issues and build a personalised learning plan that meets their needs. 

We carefully match students with the best tutor for them to ensure their tutoring experience is engaging and effective.

Contact us for a free consultation.