Americans spend 16.2 minutes a day reading for fun
Some 69% of young executives and 43% of veteran professionals spend less than four hours a week reading for business.
Or so says the latest study by The Economist Intelligence Unit and Peppercomm.
Time spent reading for business: 48 minutes/day
The study also found that:
- Research rules. 75% of executives seek business stories to research a business idea. But 93% of marketers connect content directly to products and services. Are you giving readers what they need?
- Content? Or marketing? 67% of executives say timely, unique content boosts brand perception. 71% say they don’t like content that seems more like a sales pitch than valuable information.
- Medium matters. 67% of executives prefer text over video or audio when making business decisions. Just 5% find videos helpful.
- Media? Maybe. Veteran professionals are more likely (35%) than Generation Nexters (23%) to consider articles in the media trustworthy.
Not that these numbers include time spent reading news, blogs, email newsletters and more. But they do not include time spent reading interpersonal emails.
Time spent reading email: 5 hours/day
People spend about five hours a day checking and reading interpersonal emails for work (three-plus hours a day) and personal email (two-plus hours a day), according to the 2019 Adobe Email Usage study, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults.
The average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and answering email, according to a McKinsey analysis. For the average full-time worker in America, that amounts to spending 2.6 hours on 120 messages a day.
Remember, these aren’t emails or email newsletters, but interpersonal emails. Email continues to be the preferred way to ask co-workers a quick question (39%), provide a status update (57%) or give feedback (47%), according to the Adobe study.
Time spent reading for fun: 16.2 minutes/day
U.S. women spend just 18.6 minutes a day reading for pleasure, according to the 2019 American Time Use Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. American men spend even less: an average of 13.8 minutes a day.
That means that on average, Americans spend about 16.2 minutes reading for fun.
When it comes to reading for fun, American adults spend more time than those in high school, according to the BLS. Levels of education make a difference, too.
Here’s how the age groups stack up:
- 15- to 19-year-olds average 7.8 minutes of reading a day
- 20- to 24-year-olds: 6 minutes a day
- 25- to 34-year-olds: 7.2 minutes a day
- 35- to 44-year-olds: 9.6 minutes a day
- 45- to 54-year-olds: 15 minutes a day
- 55- to 64-year-olds: 16.8 minutes a day
- 65- to 74-year-olds: 31.8 minutes a day
- Americans aged 75 or older: 43.8 minutes a day
COVID time: No surprise — Americans spent more time reading in 2020 than during the last seven years, according to Statistica. The average time spent reading in the U.S. amounted to about 20 minutes on weekdays and 21 minutes on weekends and holidays.
They’re watching TV instead. Americans average five hours and 15 minutes (not 16 minutes!) of leisure time a day. What leisure activities are they doing instead of reading?
- Watching TV occupied the most time: 2.7 hours a day on average. That’s more than half of all leisure time — and more than 8 times the amount of time people devote to reading for fun.
- Socializing and communicating: 38 minutes a day.
- Using a computer for games or leisure: 26 minutes a day.
- Other leisure activities, including travel: 25 minutes a day.
- Sports, exercise and recreation: 19 minutes a day.
- Relaxing and thinking: 19 minutes a day.
- Reading: 16 minutes a day.
As for book reading: In 2018, according to Statistica, 26% of U.S. adults said they had not read at least one book in the last year.
Time spent reading by kids: 21 to 26 minutes a day
Some 62% of tweens watch TV every day. 37% listen to music. But just 27% read — anything — every day.
That’s according to the latest 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 ages 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:
- 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, they 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%) 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%).
Do the math on time spent reading.
While they spend less than an hour each day reading for work and just 16 minutes a day reading for fun, Americans receive the data equivalent of 174 newspapers a day — ads included, according to a study by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.
Given this competition, how much of their reading time do you think they’re spending on your messages?