Is the proliferation of technology and social media destroying the reading habits of young people?
It seems commonplace to assume that America’s younger generation has been inundated with technology driven efficiency to the extent of being devoid of the sustained attention and patience required to soak in a nice novel. However, a recent Pew Research study piloted by Katherine Zickuhr and Lee Raine (2014) found that Americans ages 29 and younger were more likely to read a book in the past year than those ages 30 and older. When compared to their elders, Millennials possess similar reading habits, as nearly 43% of each group endorsed reading a book on a daily basis in the past year. Despite this, 88% of Millennials were found to have completed a book in the past year, compared to 79% of those older than age 29.
Reading a book via tablet has traditionally been a practice most prevalent within older generations; however, research now suggests that 37% of individuals between the ages of 18-29 read an ebook last year, a rate similar to those within their 30’s and 40’s. Adults ages 65 and older were the least likely to have read a book in the past year (67%), while teens ages 16-17 demonstrated the strongest reading habits, with 90% having read a book in the past year, and also reading books in print more than any other age group. Also interesting, people under 30 were more likely to say that there is “a lot of useful, important information that is not available on the internet.”
Based on these findings, it appears that the book, either print or electronic, is alive and well.
Zickuhr, K., & Raine, L. (September 10, 2014) Younger Americans and Public Libraries. How those under 30 engage with libraries and think about libraries’ role in their lives and communities. Pew Research Internet Project.
Graham Martin, MA
WKPIC Doctoral Intern