Monday, June 29, 2015

New data on how much teenagers read.

Stephen Krashen

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  (2015) presented the startling result that teenagers read, on the average, only between five minutes (weekdays) and eight minutes (weekends) per day (see their table 11).

The Bureau's results are not consistent with the results of earlier surveys of time use that included daily recreational reading, as presented in the table below:  


Time reading
Link & Hopf,  1946
64 minutes
Roberts et al, 1999
37 minues
Roberts et al, 2005
44 minutes
Rideout et al, 2010
38 minutes
Bureau, 2015
5"-8" minutes
Print = books, magazines, newspapers

Some of the problem is that "reading" in the above table refers only to reading from traditional print: It does not include reading from the computer and other electronic devices.  Time on computer has been included studies since 2005, but it is not clear how much of this time is dedicated to reading. Including reading from electronic devices may account for the apparent drop in reading since 1946 (Krashen, 2011).

Either teen-age reading has suddenly dropped drastically, or there are serious methodological differences among these studies.  What we can conclude is that it is unwise to come to firm conclusions based only on the Bureau's recent report.

Bureau of Labor Statisics. 2015. American Times Use Survey – 2014.
Krashen, S. 2011. Why We Should Stop Scolding Teenagers and Their Schools: Frequency of Leisure Reading
. Language Magazine 11 (4): 18-21, 2011.
Rideout, V., Foehr, U. and Roberts, D. 2010. Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-year olds. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Roberts, D., Foehr, U., Rideout, V., & Brodie, M. 1999. Kids & media @ the new millennium. Retrieved on November 5, 2010, from

Roberts, D., Foehr, U., & Rideout, V. 2005. Generation M: Media in the lives of 8 to 18 year-olds. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation. Menlo Park, CA: Kaiser Family Foundation

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