Children, Reading and Technology

 

 

 

imageReading the newspaper articles today relating to the 30th Anniversary of the ZX Spectrum started me thinking back to those days with my trusty Commodore 64 (What a traitor I was!). Programming lines and lines from a book, only for it to fail and then spending four hours trying to fix it, fuelled a generation of programmers down the computing path.

However, did that mean we took out head from the reading book, and into the computer book/screen?

I am wondering if there is a correlation between technological advances, children and their reading habits?

I have three children, twin girls at 14 (really where did the time go?) and a son at 9.

The girls are great readers, even though they both have laptops, and have been through the Nintendo DS phase they still read most days. One slightly more than the other, but they each power through at least one book a week each

The boy is a different matter. We struggle to get him to read. He either reads books way too young for him (age 7 books), or seems to skip through books. According to his school he in the top group for reading, and has a reading age of at least 10 1/2, so books aimed at his age group should not be an issue to him.

We took the same tact with them all which is that they could choose their own books, and could pretty much read any book they wanted, as long as it was not too young or too adult for them.

So why the difference between them?

There could very well be an argument for a sex distinction. Boys generally are less mature with a shorter attention span than girls, so that could possibly equate for the difference. As an example, my girls read Lord of The Rings at age 9 (their own choice!), not phased that it was going to take months to finish (11 months in one case, and 5 months in the other)

When I look back to my childhood I read at every opportunity I could, even sometimes, taking a book out when I was told to “go and play”, so I could go outside and sit and read. But I did not get a computer until I was 10 (The Commodore 64 mentioned above, and 25 years later I still have it!)

When the girls were growing up, although only 5 years difference between them and their brother, technologically there was quite a difference. They did not have access to games consoles or handheld games. However, when he was growing up, his sisters had a Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, so he was very aware from a young age of the distractions available.

He seems to be lacking imagination, finding non electronic things boring and will easily give a book up if he isn’t grabbed within the first two chapters.

He seems to like fantasy books, such as Young Samurai and The Spiderwick Chronicles but would not even consider reading The Hobbit.

We are considering getting him the new Raspberry Pi to see if we can fuel some imagination back into him, to see if he can recapture the imagination we felt all those years ago when we turned on a computer, and were left looking at a blank screen.

That blank screen is very much like the blank page we all start off with when we write. To some it is daunting, it requires to be filled, and it is up to us to start adding words to it. But to some of us, it is a challenge, only limited with the ideas swirling round our heads, which have been aching to get out since the last time we looked at a blank page.

But then is that just imagination?

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Children, Reading and Technology

  1. Your post is interesting, but I think you are unfair to your son. He’s a boy and has a different way of doing things.

    I’m a teacher and my students are boys and girls the same age as your son. The boys are not less mature than girls, they are attracted to different things like technology and mechanics because boys are generally more active than girls. Boys like doing things and understanding how things work. Boys are always on the move, that is why they are better at and more interested in sports.

    Sitting for hours reading a book or watching soap operas while images, thoughts and emotions stream freely in the head is not for boys.Boys need to handle and control things.

    • I agree the dinstinction between sex is valid, boys are more anturally suited to adventure.

      However I was wondering whether increase in electronic games and more distractions that I for example could have an influence.

      How long have you been a teacher? Have you noticed changes over the years?

  2. I’ve been a teacher for ten years and yes, I’ve noticed changes. Kids have become more critical, in the sense that they have better abilities to evaluate situations and people, they have become more independent, more conscious of their abilities and more technological.

    It’s probably true that they read less, or to be more precise we should say they read fewer books, but it’s also true that they know more. School and books are no longer the main source of knowledge; they learn a lot from television and the Internet.

    Most of my students have a computer and an Internet connection and know how to google; they know how to find information and use it for school. Lots of my students have a mobile phone, in certain cases a smart phone, and know how to use it.

    I’d say kids have become more intelligent. If I think of me at their age and compare how I behaved and how much I knew with kids today and how they behave and how much they know; if I think about the relationship I had with my teachers then and compare it with the relationship they have with their teachers now, well they surpass me by far.

    • I think children are certinaly more wordly wise and capable of understanding more “adult” concepts than we would have ben at their age.

      Just looking at thebooks available for a child these days, the topics are way beyond the Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Hardy Boys books that I read as a 10 year old.

      You have the Gone Series, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter.

      To get that level of book you had to switch to adult fiction at an early age.

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