Okay, so far today we know senior citizens are reading comics, millennials are using Wi-Fi to have human contact…but WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?????

Well according to a Scholastic study, they are reading things on handheld devices We’ll just jump ahead to the nut graph:

Many children want to read books on digital devices and would read for fun more frequently if they could obtain e-books. But even if they had that access, two-thirds of them would not want to give up their traditional print books.

You see? Kids are going to be BILINGUAL in the future.

Why, just a few posts ago we were saying how important reliable demographic information is and here is Scholastic Books, which surely has a stake in finding out whether kids are jut going to toss their paper-based texts out in the trash, trying to decide whether they need to abandon ship or their jobs have a future.

The survey — which you can download here — looked at 1,045 children age 6–17 and their parents and focused on kids’ attitudes towards reading in an era where they are turning their brains to total neuron soup by spending all day typing, tweeting, texting and playing video games on their handhelds. The results showed, unsurprisingly, that youngsters are adapting quickly to reading books on these devices:

About 25 percent of the children surveyed said they had already read a book on a digital device, including computers and e-readers. Fifty-seven percent between ages 9 and 17 said they were interested in doing so.

Only 6 percent of parents surveyed owned an e-reader, but 16 percent said they planned to buy one in the next year. Eighty-three percent of those parents said they would allow or encourage their children to use the e-readers.

Unsurprisingly, Scholastic execs were AMAZED to finds out that kids are adopting the technology to read; evidently these execs have not been out in public lately and noticed everyone in the world gabbing on their phones and texting while they walked, drive and watch movies, and unaware that kids are very imitative.

“I didn’t realize how quickly kids had embraced this technology,” Ms. Alexander said, referring to computers and e-readers or other portable devices that can download books. “Clearly they see them as tools for reading — not just gaming, not just texting. They see them as an opportunity to read.”

Milton Chen, a senior fellow at the George Lucas Educational Foundation, said the report made the case that children want to read on new digital platforms.

“The very same device that is used for socializing and texting and staying in touch with their friends can also be turned for another purpose,” Mr. Chen said. “That’s the hope.”

All of this points up a marketing theory which we don’t know the technical name for…we’ll call it the You’re F*cked Theorem. It worked for piano rolls, radio, TV, internet, handhelds…all advances in communications technology. Basically if you suddenly notice that everyone around you is adapting a new platform and your products are not available or adaptable on that platform….you’re f*cked.

Parents remain worried however, that the ubiquity of short information burst techs are making their kids unable to concentrate on the long term focus needed for reading, say, the works of Tobias Smollett.

Other key findings from the report:

• Parents believe the use of electronic or digital devices negatively affects the time kids spend reading books (41%), doing physical activity (40%), and engaging with family (33%; PaGE 6).
• From age 6 through age 17 , the time kids spend reading declines while the time kids spend going online for fun and using a cell phone to text or talk increases (PaGE 7).
• When asked about the one device parents would like their child to stop using for a one- or two-week period, parents most often cite television, video game systems, and cell phones.

– Parents of girls age 6-8 (41%) and 9-11 (44%) say television, while parents of boys age 6-8 are split between television (28%) and video game systems (27%;PaGE 9).

– after age 8, parents of boys are most likely to choose video game systems (33%), while parents of girls are increasingly likely to say cell phones (24% and 41% among parents of girls age 12-14 and 15-17, respectively; PaGE 9).

• While only 25% of kids have read a book on a digital device (including computers), many more (57% of kids age 9-17) are interested in doing
so. When asked if they would read more books for fun if they had access to ebooks, one-third of kids age 9-17 of kids said yes, including frequent readers (34%), moderately frequent readers (36%), and even infrequent readers (27%; PaGES 14–16).

• When asked about the most important outcome of reading books for fun, children age 9–17 say it is to: open up the imagination (43%), be inspired (36%), and to a lesser degree, to gain new information (21%). Parents express similar views (43%, 35%, and 22%, respectively; PaGE 20).
• It is clear that letting kids choose which books they want to read is key to raising a reader. Nine out of 10 children say they are more likely to finish books they choose themselves. Parents also recognize the power of choice — nearly 9 out of 10 parents say “as long as my child is reading, I just want my child to read books he/she likes.” (PaGES 34–35).
• In addition to choice, parents use other tactics to encourage reading that appear to result in more frequent reading, including making sure there are interesting books at home (for kids age 9-11 and 15-17), putting limits on the amount of time spent using technology (for kids age 9-11), and suggesting books they might like (for kids age 12-14; PaGES 31–32).

And one more that wasn’t highlighted:

Two in three children say they will always want to read books printed on paper even though there are eBooks available. Kids who already have experience reading eBooks are just as likely as kids who have not had experience eReading to agree.

So…there is hope.


  1. Anyone notice that the Nintendo DS has networking capabilities (802.11b)? And that they offer a “100 Books” cartridge? Nintendo does promote the “family affair” networking aspect of the DS, suggesting the household has more than one DS (quite possible, as the platform has existed for six years, selling 132 million units worldwide).

    The PSP is also actively exploiting the market, with many comicbook apps available. (Not to mention the Sony Ereader…)

    How many grade schools now offer laptops to children?

    Might the theorem be better stated as “UR PWNED”?

  2. Another aspect of all this is the capability of kids to use their devices to CREATE books as well as read them.

    I think this is just as important a factor in child literacy as reading. The idea of creating and sharing stories (and learning from the experience while having “fun”) is going to be a more important part of this next generation’s culture.

    Re: Print – I predict we will see more and more print-on-demand models out there rather than the traditional ‘print run.’ I say this simply because our children are far more ecologically aware than we are and will embrace print as a unique item.

  3. “When asked about the one device parents would like their child to stop using for a one- or two-week period, parents most often cite television, video game systems, and cell phones.”

    …as opposed to what other devices? Dishwashers? Toilets? No kidding parents think entertainment devices are overused.

  4. The disconcerting thing I got from this article was “39 percent of children ages 9 to 17 said the information they found online was “always correct.””.