Children aged 9-16 spend as much time reading online as reading print materials, although the number of young people reading books, comics and magazines drops in the teenage years, according to a new report.
According to ‘The Monitor 2017’ report from Childwise, which surveyed 2,000 young people in the UK, 9-16 year-olds spend half an hour reading printed materials such as books, comics and magazines every day, and half an hour reading online content like blogs, fan fiction and online magazines.
However, the way children read changes as they hit their teenage years. Those aged 9-12 read offline for twice as long as online, whilst 13-16 year-olds spend double the amount of time reading online, said Childwise. For example, more than two in five of 9-12s never read online, but this halves by age 15-16.
“As children grow older, the number reading online rises sharply and time spent doing so increases rapidly, likely due to higher levels of mobile phone ownership,” said Childwise research executive Helena Dare-Edwards. “On a mobile, they can access short-form content anytime, anywhere, and links to external sites are continually shared and circulated through social media. Older children are also more likely to have fewer restrictions on the websites they can visit and more freedom in the amount of time they spend online.”
Teenagers are also more likely to say they don’t read at all – as a third of 15-16 year-olds said they never read, compared to 5% of 9-10 year-olds.
However, Dare-Edwards said the internet and online materials could help encourage adolescents to read. “Recent years have seen a steady decline in the number of children reading for pleasure but it could be argued that online reading is bridging this gap, particularly among teenagers who begin to move away from books and magazines.”
When asked what content they read online, respondents mentioned news articles, blogs, online magazines, fan fiction websites such as Wattpad and social media platforms like Snapchat and Twitter.
However, e-book use amongst people is down, as 19% of those surveyed said they have an e-reader, down from 23% last year.
Other findings from the report include that girls read more than boys, with half reading for half an hour or more every day, compared to 44% of boys. Boys are almost twice as likely to never read (20% compared to 11% of girls).