Just four in 10 teenagers pick up a book to read for leisure, as do just 49% of people aged 20 to 34, according to a new study on the reading habits of the Dutch over the last 10 years by the government’s social advisor SCP.
In 2006 65% of teenagers and 85% of young adults regularly read books. The trend away from reading physical books and newspapers is apparent across all age groups. The number of people picking up a book or paper and reading at least 10 minutes at a stretch every week has fallen from 90% in 2006 to 72% a decade later.
Paper is still preferred to screens, mostly by women, older people and people with a lower level of education, the researchers said. Some 90% of the over 65s still read regularly.
The SCP calls the trend ‘worrying’ because of the ‘loss of personal and social benefits’ associated with reading.
While the time squeeze influences reading behaviour but that does not explain the differences in reading habits between teenagers and older people and people with higher and lower levels of education, the SCP said. However, youngsters who take to reading, read almost as much as elderly readers, with men reading more than women, the researchers said.
Paper still rules, the SCP found, despite the ubiquitous presence of screens and screen-based reading material.
Screen reading is often combined with other media activities, which the SCP suggests may impair people’s capacity to read at a stretch for longer periods of time. Some 45% of the time spent on screen reading is combined with some other form of other media use.