A Nation of Dunces: In This Digital Age, Kids Neither Read Nor Write

A new study that shows kids today neither read nor write will make you despair about the future.

We previously found that kids have already lost the ability to write anything past texting speak (you know, your “LOLs” and “BFFs”). But now we are finding out that they just don’t read anything longer than a text message, either.

This is bad news for all of western civilization. After all, you can’t pass on intricate values and a shared civilization if no one can read or write.

Time magazine has this discouraging tale:

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A third of U.S. teenagers haven’t read a book for pleasure in at least a year, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). And it’s not because they’re too busy watching TV.

The research, published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture, points to the continuing dominance of digital media among teenagers. Teen use of traditional media — such as books, magazines and television — has dropped off, while time spent texting, scrolling through social media and using other forms of digital media continues to increase, the survey says.

To reach their conclusions, APA researchers analyzed data from the Monitoring the Future study, an ongoing annual survey of around 50,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders. The study included survey responses from 1976 to 2016.

Podcasts were found to be popular as was audio books where kids listen to someone else read a book to them.

But, listening to a story instead of reading a story does not yield the same level of inculcation nor engagement. It’s one thing to hear a fictitious story read aloud, but philosophy and history and learning about our society just can’t be deeply inculcated and understood orally. One needs to see the words in print, to be able to mark a page or go back to it and re-read it over and over again. You just can’t do this with audio.

Insight cannot be gained by listening to everything. It just can’t.

Further more, one also learns HOW to communicate effectively by reading. When you read, you see how people craft sentences and paragraphs and how they assemble information. You SEE how ideas are woven in and out of the text. By the act of reading, a reader gains more insight int the presentation than just the simple grasping of the main point of an idea. He also sees the way an idea is presented.

In addition, people speak differently than the written word, too. People speak in chopped sentences, not thought out, long-form paragraphs. People take short cuts when they speak, quick fades in and out of ideas, interruptions and backtracking, things that they would never perform on the written page. Sound also conveys a different message. Sarcasm, for instance, may be obvious in audio form but the exact same words may seem quite different on the written page.

But if we’ve raised a whole generation of dunces who can’t concentrate past the few characters of a text message, we will lose our national character and we’ll birth generations of people too stupid to understand that they are being manipulated by the left.

Indeed, we’ve already gotten to that point, sadly.

We move closer to the movie Idiocracy every day.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.

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