Is Your Child’s Tech Use Harming Their Literacy Skills?

by Screen Time Team on 06/02/2019
As long as there have been children, books, and something to distract them from reading, there has been concern that children aren't reading enough. The latest “something” is the smartphone and the tablet. But are screens denting children's literary skills, or is the concern overblown? The answer is more complicated than you think.
Young teen mowing the grass.

Adults Actually Read Less

Credit due to the children: They’re reading, and we’re not. A Pew Internet study of our literary habits found the people least likely to sit down with a book were actually those 50 to 64 years of age, followed by the 30-49s and the 65 and older crowd. Some of this has to do with children being expected to read textbooks, file book reports, and otherwise engage with text at school, but also kids have more time to sit down with a book, and arguably more opportunity to sit down with one. After all, their schools usually have a library in the building.

That said, however, we live in a society of more distractions than ever. Social media, streaming TV, the texts and calls of friends who may be upset without a response, and even online texts such as long-form essays hosted on websites all compete with books, print and electronic, for time and attention, even if we’re trapped indoors

Part of the reason past generations were so literate was really there was just a lot less to do; our grandparents probably would have struggled to prioritize social media, Netflix, Spotify, and friends texting too. The question really becomes how to get kids to value books. And there are a few simple steps you can take to do that.

Teen sitting on a couch reading a book.

Building A Book-Friendly Family

  • Lead by example. If you read, kids will read.
  • Don’t force it. If you have bad memories of books you hated reading for school, why inflict those on your kids? Let them explore books and find the books they like reading. The same is true of quitting reading a book for pleasure. If they don’t enjoy it, why slog through it?
  • Ask them what they’re reading, for pleasure or for school. If they like a book, ask why, and if they don’t, follow up.
  • Remember that reading is a skill, and like any skill, it improves with practice. Kids who weren’t big readers before will get the hang of it once they find books they like.
  • Ensure children have access to books. This can mean a trip to the library, a shared family Kindle, a visit to the local used bookstore, or just buying age-appropriate books and keeping them in the house.
  • Don’t pick books based on “quality.” Let kids find books they like, instead of forcing them to read “classics” or the books you like.
  • Start a family “book club,” where you all read the same book, or each read a different book and tell each other about it.
  • Set aside time in the day for the family to read. Use parental control apps to shut down screens and just read together or separately.

Finding time in the day for the little things can be tough, especially with a smartphone at your side and a kid’s attention span. Screen Time parental control software can help. To learn how, try it for free.

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Is Your Child's Tech Use Harming Their Literacy Skills?
Article Name
Is Your Child's Tech Use Harming Their Literacy Skills?
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Kids read more than adults, but they need help fighting the many distractions of smartphones.
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Screen Time
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