E-readers are quickly growing in popularity throughout the United States, and for obvious reasons. It is easy to see how this new technology could be extremely beneficial: electronic books will greatly reduce the amounts of trees needed for distribution; the lack of physical materials in the publishing process will reduce the price of books; the ability to fit thousands of books on a single reader will save vast amounts of space in a household. However, there may be a very concerning deficit to E-readers which could significantly damage the children in a household.
Several researchers at the University of Nevada conducted a twenty-year study using data from around the world on how the presence of books in a developing child’s life affects his or her educational success. It was found that the mere presence of large numbers of physical books increased the child’s education by over three years. The presence of reading material in fact had a greater influence than the education of the parents themselves or the economic state of the child’s country. (An article regarding the study can be found here, the study itself can be bought here.)
The new popularity of E-readers has the potential to severely decrease the number of physical books found in any particular household. This lack of an important visible cue may hinder the youngest generation’s development of a love for reading and learning, leading to fewer and fewer students continuing their education.
As a society, should we be concerned of the detrimental consequences such technology could have on the future?