Why are young people reading less and what impact does this have on them?


Over the past twenty years the world has seen a vast development of technology and communication. With social media now being accessible worldwide there is no doubt that young people are spending more time on their devices and less time reading. But are we aware of how significant this decrease is and what impact it can have on our youth?

How much have reading levels decreased?

In a 2023 survey ran by the National Literacy Trust showed exactly to what extent reading levels changed from 2005 to now.

. Only 2/5 8–18-year-olds answered they enjoyed reading in their spare time when asked. This is the lowest record level since the question was first asked in 2005.

. There has been a 26% decrease in the number of 8–18-year-olds who read daily, this is from 38.1% in 2005 to just 28% in 2023.

. However, from 2022-2023 there has been an increase in the number of boys reading daily, while there has been a decrease in the number of girls reading daily.

Now that we have seen how much reading levels have decreased, it leaves the question as to why this has happened? What effects will this have on our youth?

Why has this happened?

Of course, the biggest culprit of this decline is likely due to the rise of technology, smartphones, and social media. So much of our youth’s culture and community is based online so it is no wonder they are constantly distracted by the bombardment of notifications received daily. Platforms such as Instagram and TikTok have also had studies performed on their users which suggests that due to the videos being able to cram in lots of information into just 60 seconds, some users are now suffering from a shortened attention span. According to a recent study conducted at the University of Denmark, topics would capture widespread attention quickly, but lose it just as fast.

What are the effects of this?

Reading has been proven to have a number of benefits, particularly on literacy and communication skills, as well as on mental health and general wellbeing. The Reading Agency has reported that non-readers are 28% more likely to report symptoms of depression. Reading is known to be a great stress reliever and an effective way to relax. As mentioned previously, reading is incredibly helpful in being able to retain a good attention span as well as sufficiently retain information. Reading is also known to help expand vocabulary and general knowledge, a lack of which can lead to young people struggling in school and in their later life. It is recommended for everybody to read for at least twenty minutes per day.