E-books may spur more kids to read and study

An electronic book is being tested at Hanwang Technology factory near Beijing, China on June 9, 2009.Picture: EPA

Sunday, October 10, 2010

THE amount of time children spend reading books for enjoyment decreases as they use cell phones and other mobile technology, but e-books might just bring them back to literature, according to a report released on Wednesday.

The study, which was conducted by educational and media company Scholastic and Harrison Group, a marketing and research consulting firm, also found parents are concerned that greater access to technology would limit time reading or with family.

About 40 per cent of parents believed that time spent online or on mobile devices would reduce time for books or engaging in physical activities. Thirty-three percent were concerned technology would lead to less time spent with family.

However, the study found that technology might actually encourage a child to read. Of the kids polled in the study, 57 per cent said they would be interested in reading an e-book.

About one-third of children said they would read more books for pleasure if e-books were more available to them. Sixty-six per cent, however, said they would continue to read books in print even with greater e-book availability.

Francie Alexander, the chief academic officer of Scholastic, said in a statement that the results of the study show e-books can have an important educational role. "If we can meet kids where they are and get a third of all kids, many of them struggling readers, to spend more time reading for fun on e-books, that additional time spent building fluency and vocabulary will not only help them become more proficient at reading, but will help prepare them to tackle more complex texts that they will encounter in high school and college," she said. The study also demonstrates that parents and children have drastically different views of what reading is. While only eight per cent of parents considered text messages reading, one quarter of children did.

Over 1,000 children and their parents from a nationally representative panel participated in the study.

China Daily/Agencies