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2023-08-18 16:14:17

Why are we reading less – and what can we do about it?

Why are we reading less – and what can we do about it?

With the gradual decrease in the number of people finding time to immerse themselves in the pages of books, their preferences are increasingly transferred to the world of the Internet. This observation has significant negative consequences, and experts have analyzed changes in literary preferences over the past decades, drawing attention to the role of the Internet in this process.


What are the benefits of reading?

There are many positive aspects of reading. Gaining new knowledge is the most obvious benefit, especially when reading specialized literature that is useful in a career or education. However, it is worth thinking about the impact of reading and fiction or entertainment literature.

  1. For 12 years, researchers at Yale University studied a group of people who spent at least 3.5 hours reading each week. They found that participants in this group had a 25% reduction in mortality compared to those who did not take the time to read! The exact reasons for this effect have not been established: perhaps reading helps reduce stress levels or helps strengthen connections between neurons in the brain. In any case, this indicates a positive trend.
  2. Another study, conducted by researchers at Rush University in Chicago, included 294 elderly participants and found that reading books can slow down the decline in age-related cognitive function and even prevent the development of Alzheimer's disease.
  3. A group of researchers, consisting of neurophysiologists from the UK, began to study brain activity while reading using magnetic resonance imaging. They wanted to compare the characteristics of brain activity and blood circulation when reading for pleasure and reading "as needed." It turned out that when reading for pleasure in comparison with reading "out of necessity" there are differences in brain activity and blood circulation. In situations where participants were instructed not only to read the text, but also to remember its content, analyze it critically, activation of brain regions associated with visual perception, as well as areas responsible for concentration and imagination, was observed.

Similar changes in brain activity were observed when reading complex literary works and scientific texts. In addition, increased activity was found in the central sulcus of the brain, indicating that the reader is involved in the plot and worries about the characters. Unlike watching videos, reading provides an opportunity for analysis, interpretation, and visualization, just as it does in real life.

Reasons for the decline in the popularity of reading

With the introduction of the Internet, there have been dramatic changes in our perception of standard concepts - communication, work and access to data. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to imagine that students will go to regular libraries in search of answers - you can always find the right literature or article on the network.

However, it is not true to say that internet access has reduced the amount of reading among people. If there was a desire, they would read e-books. But the frequency of reading is still decreasing. The question is, why?

Variety of entertainment

Until the twentieth century, books were among the few available options for cultural pastime and symbolized progress, were the main source of knowledge. But with the advent of radio and television, books faced strong competition. People can just watch a movie where all the feelings and atmosphere are created by the filmmakers, and the viewer's imagination is not involved. In addition, books have not become more accessible, and sometimes even the opposite, and because of this, people with limited means often refuse to buy books. In addition, computers offer a wide range of activities that people find more entertaining, such as video games and music.

Information glut

Before criticizing the modern generation for their lack of interest in reading, it is worth considering the current state of the information market. About two million books are published every year, and this is not without taking into account articles, publications, studies that replenish the Internet daily. This is not to say that today's people process less information – in fact, they process much more data than previous generations, but prefer alternative formats.

Estimates show that about 150 million books have been published throughout history (excluding print runs). Now we are faced with a choice from a wide range of information, and reading books becomes just one of many possibilities.

Inability to read everything

With so much information available, it's simply impossible to read everything, and not necessarily. Most of the materials quickly lose their relevance, especially in the case of scientific publications, some do not deserve attention, and many others are simply lost among others like them. When it comes to relaxation, many prefer to avoid all information, including reading books. In addition, modern readers have countless ways to realize themselves - instead of reading about how someone else did it.

Clip Thinking

The term "clip thinking" originated in the 1990s and describes a person's tendency to perceive information through short, bright, dynamic "clips" (segments). Clip consumers prefer short videos and small chunks of information over long articles and books. People choose the path of least resistance, which leads to difficulties with concentration for a long time.

The world of the Internet user is like a kaleidoscope of pieces of information, news and facts, and people are constantly hungry for new stories and colorful headlines.

Changing the pace of life

For a deep understanding of the literary text and enjoyment of reading, it is necessary to read slowly. But the slow pace is not at all typical for the XXI century, people are constantly on the move and busy. One of the few opportunities to devote time to books is on the road, and then if you do not need to drive a car.

Therefore, millions of people use alternative methods: e-books (it is easy to carry hundreds of books with them), reading applications, audiobooks (they can be listened to anywhere).

Have you retained your love of reading?

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Egor Eremeev
Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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