73% of tweens, 80% of teens don’t read every day
Read it and weep: 62% of tweens watch TV every day. 37% listen to music. But just 27% read — anything — every day.
That’s according to the 2015 Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens.
This despite the fact that American teenagers average about nine hours of entertainment media a day — not including schoolwork or homework. Tweens (Americans aged 8 to 12) average about six hours of entertainment media daily.
Teens average more than six and a half hours a day. Most teens (57%) spend more than four hours per day with screen media. (The non-screen portion of young people’s media use includes listening to music and reading print.)
Tweens average more than four and a half hours (4:36) of screen media use a day.
What are they doing with that time?
Watching TV and listening to music dominate young people’s media diets.
Teens: Every day, these young adults young adults:
- Listen to music: 66%
- Watch TV: 58%
- Use social media: 45%
- Watch online videos: 24%
- Play mobile games: 27%
Nearly 20% of teens report reading for fun every day.
Tweens: Every day, those in this age group:
- Watch TV: 62%
- Listen to music: 37%
- Play mobile games: 27%
- Read: 27%
- Watch online videos: 34%
These findings correlate with the American Psychological Association’s 2017 Monitoring the Future study. It found fewer that 20% of U.S. teenagers had read a book for pleasure in the last year. More than 80%, on the other hand, used social media every day.
Instead, the survey found that the average 12th grader reported spending about six hours a day of leisure time using digital media. Here’s the average amount of time they spent:
- Texting: 2 hours
- Exploring the internet: 2 hours
- Using social media: 2 hours
Tenth graders, those ages 15 or 16, reported an average of five hours of digital media use a day. Eighth graders reported an average of four hours of digital media use a day.
Some 13% spend five or more hours a day watching TV.
They enjoy reading.
Many tweens (41%) and teens (30%) say they enjoy reading “a lot,” according to the Common Sense Census. They just enjoy other media activities (watching TV, listening to music, playing video and mobile games, and — for teens — using social media) more.
When they do read, the mostly read print books.
Tweens are equally likely to or be reading for personal interest (44%) as reading for homework (46%) on any given day (as opposed to daily). Among the share of Americans who do read for homework on any given day, tweens spend an average of 45 minutes doing so.
Teens are more likely to read for homework (44%) than for fun (29%). Among those who do read for homework on any given day, teens spend an hour.
The amount of reading time averages 21 minutes per day among tweens and 26 minutes among teens.
They’re information multitasking.
Half of teens in the United States say they “often” or “sometimes” watch TV (51%) or use social media (50%t) while doing homework, according to the Common Sense Census. More say they text (60%) and listen to music (76%).
Most don’t think these practices affect the quality of their work. In fact, more teens think listening to music while doing homework helps their work (50%) than hurts it (6%).
For more depressing details about Americans’ reading habits, find out what The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey says about American adults’ reading habits. (Hint: American spent 16.5 minutes a day reading for fun.)
“THE COMMON SENSE CENSUS: MEDIA USE BY TWEENS AND TEENS,” Common Sense, 2015
Jamie DuCharme, “A Third of Teenagers Don’t Read Books for Pleasure Anymore,” Time, Aug. 20, 2018
“Teens Today Spend More Time on Digital Media, Less Time Reading,” American Psychological Association, Aug. 20, 2018