Equity & Diversity

Online Reading Worries Seen in 2010 Study: #TBT

By Benjamin Herold — October 02, 2014 1 min read
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Earlier this week, I wrote about fascinating and troubling new research pointing to a previously unrecognized income-based achievement gap in how students read and comprehend on the Internet.

The study, led by Donald Leu at the University of Connecticut, is the latest to raise concerns about the impact that digital and online reading are having on children.

So it was interesting to hop in the ol’ Digital Education way-back machine and set the dial for 2010, where I found this story about a report from Scholastic.

The message from the Danbury, Connecticut-based publisher echoed what until recently was a familiar refrain:

While parents understandably have concerns about the amount of time their kids are spending on electronic or digital devices, e-books offer a way to get more kids reading and kids reading more," said Francie Alexander, the chief academic officer for Scholastic, in a press release.

The worry part in the “2010 Kids & Family Reading Report” was clear: 41 percent of the parents surveyed said that digital devices were cutting into their children’s reading time, as well as a host of other activities.

The hopeful part felt a little less tangible: 57 percent of the 9- to 17-year-olds surveyed “expressed interest in reading e-books,” according to the Ed Week story.

But what really stood out to me from the 2010 Scholastic report were the early signs of an issue that Leu stressed during our interview this week: Online and Internet-based reading involves a different set of skills than reading print texts, but it’s an increasingly important form of reading nonetheless.

Not surprisingly, it appears that kids were quicker to grasp this reality than their parents, at least according to the Scholastic survey:

Students and parents also differ on their views of what constitutes reading. For instance, a quarter of kids surveyed considered texting with friends reading versus 8 percent of adults, and 28 percent of kids considered spending time looking at comments and profiles on social-networking websites like Facebook reading versus 15 percent of parents.

And not surprisingly, there were big signs even four years ago about a major problem highlighted by Leu and his team: U.S. students are very, very bad at critically evaluating the credibility of content on the Internet.

According to the 2010 Scholastic study, 39 percent of students ages 9-17 agreed with the statement, “The information I find online is always correct.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.