Sunday, July 21, 2013

Too Busy for Books

It is no secret that modern life is moving faster than it ever has before.  We are a world that is plugged in and on the go 24/7.  While it has created innovations that make our lives more efficient, it has also robbed us and our children of some values and pastimes.  A report entitled Is Children's Reading a Casualty of Modern Life? for the Children's Media Conference in the UK suggests that today's children are missing out on the pleasure of reading.  Some of it blames strict educational standards for not allowing teachers to really encourage reading:

"...82% of teachers blame the government's 'target-driven' education policies for the fact that fewer children are reading for pleasure.  They believe that a 'straitjacket' of regimented schooling is squeezing young people's ability to read more widely. Two-thirds of teachers polled said they lacked time in the school day to introduce a variety of books and that this was a 'major barrier to being able to develop a level of reading'".

Other reports also suggest that technology is changing the way children interact with the world around them and that they are becoming more likely to spend time in front of a screen than with a book: 

"Touch-screen phones and tablets are intuitive to children," it said, and predicted a period of "awkwardness" as everyone else adapts. By 2018, children's television will have adopted the presence of this second screen, and it "will be odd not to have children at home drawing along on tablets and then having these appearing live in the show".

While I don't think that all technology is is inherently bad for children, I do think that parents are going to have to take more responsibility for their child's reading habits.  As our lives become busier, it is often easier to let the digital nannies keep the kids amused while we catch up on chores, work, sleep, or our own pleasures.  Bedtime stories have given way to bedtime movies and games.  But while this makes our lives seem less stressful, I don't think that it is ultimately the best thing for children.  I know that some of my best childhood memories have less to do with watching television and more to do with the great books my mom (and dad) would read to us before bed.

What do you think about this trend?  Is there a way to change it?  How do you balance modern conveniences with traditional pastimes?  Share your thoughts here.

1 comment:

hopeinbrazil said...

It's amazing to think that reading is becoming more and more a counter cultural activity. We read to our kids by the hour, but that was before many electronic gadgets were available. Now I struggle as an adult to turn off the computer and read a book whereas in the past a free minute always meant a book minute.