New survey suggests the rise of tablet use by children may be having a negative impact on book reading habits:
According to a survey of 2,000 British children and parents conducted by Nielsen Book in June this year, 50% of family households now own at least one tablet, up from 24% a year ago.
Is this a good thing for kids’ reading habits? Are they hoovering up e-books and delighting in digital book-apps on these devices? In a word: no. At least not according to data shared at The Bookseller Children’s Conference by research firm Nielsen Book.
The good news? 32% of children still read books for pleasure on a daily basis, the second most popular activity behind watching TV (36%), and well ahead of social networking (20%), watching videos on YouTube (17%) and playing mobile games and apps (16%).
On a weekly basis, 60% of children are reading books for pleasure, and if you factor in children who are being read to by parents, that percentage climbs to 72%. But…
“But there’s a really disturbing pattern beginning to emerge when you look on a weekly basis,” said Nielsen Book’s Jo Henry, presenting the findings to an audience of publishers.
Only three activities increased in percentage terms between 2012 and 2013: playing “game apps” (the term used by Nielsen Book), visiting YouTube and text messaging. Reading? That was down nearly eight percentage points.
“It’s a snapshot, not a sustainable trend and next year it might go up again. But this is alarming: children are being less engaged with reading,” said Henry, who also pointed to industry figures showing an 8% year-on-year drop in (printed) books bought for children.
“I want to stress that most children are still medium and heavy book readers, but what we’re seeing is a really significant rise in the number of occasional and even non-readers in the children’s market.”