Environment Printed books still top choice for Aussie teens

Printed books still top choice for Aussie teens

New research contradicts the stereotype of teenagers glued to their digital devices, finding adolescents prefer old fashioned printed books when they read for pleasure.

The surprising finding comes from joint research by Deakin and Murdoch Universities, investigating how, what and where 12 to 16 year olds are reading.

More than 550 students from rural, regional and metropolitan Victoria and Western Australia took part in the pilot study to investigate the effect of new digital platforms on young people’s long-form reading culture.

Project leader Dr Leonie Rutherford said printed books were proving more popular for teens than digital texts.

And the study had also reinforced the importance of public and school libraries to youth, with more than half of the participants holding a public library card.

Murdoch University researcher Dr Margaret Merga, who collaborated on the project, said the study’s findings challenge the popular notion of teenagers as a group of ‘digital natives’, with uniform digital literacy skills and preferences for reading on the screen.

“This idea is so popular and pervasive, that some schools in Australia and the USA have removed paper books from their libraries, and gone eBook only,” Dr Merga said.

“Our findings would suggest that this is a mistake, and such decisions, which are not supported by research, may limit young people’s access to books in their preferred mode.”

Discover more surprising results from the teen reading study here. Story credit: Murdoch University newsroom.

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