Dawn of the digital natives? Or: When is reading not proper reading?

Literacy may not, after all, be killed off by technology

An interesting article by Steven Johnson on the front of this week’s Technology Guardian says that scary reports about the decline of reading in the digital age ignore all the screen reading that’s going on. He’s even found a study (in Michigan, admittedly) that found ‘that grades and reading scores rose with the amount of time spent online’. He concludes, ‘What separates the Google generation from postwar generations is the shift from largely image-based passive media to largely text-based interactive media.’ Why, everyone’s actually writing more now they’re on blogs and MySpace. The end of the literate world may not, after all, be at hand!

The National Literacy Trust published its own findings last December on Young people’s self-perceptions as readers. They surveyed 1143 pupils who defined themselves as ‘readers’ and 471 pupils who defined themselves as ‘non-readers’. However, their findings show, in an interesting reflection of Steven Johnson’s comments, that ‘the a huge percentage of non-readers do read, just not the kinds of materials that are traditionally associated with reading.’ Take a look at the full survey findings to learn more.