Young people 'prefer to read on screen'

Computer screen Young people are now more likely to read on screen than in a printed book

Young people are now much more likely to prefer to read on a computer screen rather than a printed book or magazine, according to a UK survey.

The National Literary Trust studied almost 35,000 eight- to 16-year-olds.

Its findings suggest a picture of young people who are now immersed in a screen-based culture.

As well as social networking and browsing websites, the study indicates almost a third of youngsters read fiction on online devices.

Screen-agers

The study suggests high levels of access to mobile phones, computers and tablet devices now mean that reading is an activity more likely to be on screen than on the printed page.

Of those surveyed, 52% preferred to read on screen compared with 32% who preferred print, with the remainder having no opinion or preferring not to read at all.

"Not only are children and young people more likely to read on electronic devices than they are to read paper-based materials but they also do it more often," said the study.

Researchers found that 39% of the young people read every day on computers and screens, compared with 28% who read each day using printed materials.

Technology is central to the lives of these youngsters - 97% reported having access to a computer and the internet at home, 77% said they had their own computer.

Novel devices

Much of this will be used for activities such as social networking websites, but there were also signs of a switch to the screen for other types of reading, such as fiction, news and information.

About a third were reading fiction on screen, with higher levels for those using tablet computers or e-readers.

And 23% of the youngsters read fiction on their smartphones.

But there has so far not been a complete shift to reading on screen, with 53% still reading novels in printed form.

The girls were more likely to read printed books than the boys - with both having similar levels of reading on screen.

Younger children who read printed books as well as used computers were more likely to have higher reading levels than those who only read on screen, the study said. Although this gap did not apply to those children who used tablet computers or e-readers.

A clearer pattern was visible with the readership of printed newspapers. This has tumbled from 46% in 2005 to 31% in this latest study. In contrast, there are now 41% of these young people who read news stories online.

National Literacy Trust director Jonathan Douglas said: "Our research confirms that technology is playing a central role in young people's literacy development and reading choice.

"While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it's crucial that reading in print is not cast aside."

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