Archive | January, 2013

Digital Reading

22 Jan

Literacy and technology have developed a connection since the explosive growth of technology in the twentieth century. I read an article called “Digital Reading on the Rise for Children (With a Qualifier)” from the New York Times that discussed what the digital age has done for children in regards to literacy, focusing on e-readers. The article states that the percentage of children with e-readers has nearly doubled since 2010 but the number of girls described as frequent readers has decreased. Tablets have gained a presence in the lives of these children; however, reading is not the only activity available on these tablets and children, particularly girls, are social networking rather than reading. The opposite was proven for boys in that about one-fourth of boys in the study with e-books said they read more books for fun with an e-book and would read more books for fun with access to one.

It seems that technology presents itself in a way that exposes children to reading as entertainment. Especially with younger children, technology has opened doors for strategic programs that focus on reading in a fun and enjoyable way. It almost appears as if they are not reading at all. This process seems to continue as technology improves and increases. Tablets are tremendously spreading throughout homes in America. This is fantastic in that it gives an opportunity to have any book you want at your fingertips or immediate satisfaction. The problem lies in everything else that the tablets have to offer. Why read a book when you could play a video game with incredible effects? There are several distractions available on these sort of devices, but would they sell to children if they were merely e-readers? Probably not.

This is not to say that video games, social networking, or other applications cannot strengthen literacy. For example, Facebook and Twitter encourage free-writing and creative expression as well as reading others’ writing and updates. Applications require reading, but they distract from traditional and educational reading. Although there are disadvantages to digital reading, I do believe that it can have a significant impact on literacy; however, I think the secret lies in the ability to learn while entertaining. What better way to entertain children than with technology? They have grown up in this age and it is what they know. I think that the increase of tablets with e-reading capabilities could really provide an incentive for children to read more. Even if the material being read is not always educational, at least reading is occurring.

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