I own a Ford F150 pickup that has around 160,000 miles on it. I’m thinking seriously about buying a newer one with less miles, so, having never looked at them before, I’ve been surfing through one of those cars-and-trucks-for-sale websites. I am amazed. It lists around a thousand pickups all over the United States. I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to buy a pickup over the internet since I think any vehicle that I’m going to spend thousands of dollars on deserves to be driven first, duh, but it really was fun going through all the advertisements.
In fact, it was addictive. Last night, I looked at fifty detailed descriptions of pickups while viewing every one of the 1,089 listings. Today, similar ads are popping-up on my screen while I’m reading mail, looking at Facebook, or checking the news. I resent being flooded by ads, but, on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if anything new has been posted.
I’ve been sucked into an electronic monster.
Besides getting a feeling for the prices of various years and models of pickups, the affect of mileage, and imagining how difficult it would be to buy a pickup that is physically in Maine while I’m sitting in New Mexico, it felt like real power to see all the for-sale things on my screen and think that, with only an email, I could start a bargaining process that was nation-wide.
How many parents are watching their kids spend hours every day looking at YouTube videos, exchanging email, texting, or posting pictures on Instagram. I heard of one girl who routinely takes two hundred selfies every night before selecting the one that’s just right to post to all her friends that evening. She’s not only in a competitive atmosphere for selfies, but is in real combat.
I like my phone and I like email and I like discovering information with my computer. I am getting a little tired of Facebook, but I’m delighted to watch some of the videos on YouTube. What an amazing environment!
But it’s not all I do. If I am addicted to anything, it’s ordering books from Amazon. I could do a lot worse, but I try to read a book a week. Most of them are nonfiction like writing advice or history or biography, but I also enjoy a good Clive Cussler or a Baldacci.
I wish it were so with younger generations.
This is from Common Sense Media’s “Children, Teens, and Reading” 2014 research brief:
- 53 percent of nine-year-olds versus 17 percent of seventeen-year-olds are daily readers
- The proportion of children who “never” or “hardly ever” read tripled from 1984 to 2014. A third of thirteen-year-olds and 45 percent of seventeen-year-olds say they’ve read for pleasure one or two times a year, if that.
Believe it or not, this isn’t just books. It includes ANY vehicle of words, like magazine, newspapers, or comic books. One report observed that a college student will typically read two hundred to six hundred pages every week. Any student who is used to reading only phone texts and tweets may be in big trouble.
Let me state up front that I’m not blaming social media as the only culprit in soaking up young people’s eyes nor am I blaming only the young for not reading; I see a lot of adults who are just as absorbed in their cell phones as any teenager. The lure of video games and take-them-with-you-anywhere-on-every-device-you-own videos and movies are also strong.
Okay, so I don’t want to rant; I want to recommend a book.
How to Get Your Screen-Loving Kids to Read Books for Pleasure, by Kaye Newton
If you are a parent concerned that your kids are not interested in reading, or not reading enough, get this book. It identifies the problems (using her family as examples), it cites several studies for why kids need to be reading on a regular basis, and has a lot of down-to-earth recommendations for getting your kids unplugged from electronic screens and more plugged into books.
Everyone will benefit.
Don Willerton has been a reader all his life and yearns to write words like the authors he has read. He's working hard at it and invites others to share their experiences.