Why is it vital that children continue to grow up reading?
How we spend our early years of free time shapes who we grow up to be. We are incredibly fortunate to have access to a wide range of constantly advancing technology; whilst this has many benefits, there is an increasing belief that it may be detrimental to young children's development. These concerns have grown exponentially since the global pandemic, where children had little to do to entertain themselves, and parents found themselves slowly- but consistently- increasing their access to screens. 

This is inherently damaging to several aspects of a child's behaviour and personality, the most prominent of which is a decreasing attention span. As you can imagine this particular trait proved to be prominent in children readjusting to school. No longer able to endlessly scroll through thirty-second videos, or play a quick game of Fortnite for a dopamine hit, instead they must sit doing school work in (on average) sixty+minute lessons. According to a 2023 Ofsted survey, 42% of teachers claimed that behaviour has worsened since the pandemic, it doesn't take much to guess why. The children are bored, and unable to be entertained by longer learning activities.

An additional children's health poll from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll gave more evidence backing the belief in excessive screen time in children. Siting that nine in ten parents believe the extortionate time children spend on games impacts their daily and family interactions. Not only that, gaming is apparently affecting sleep in 44% of the cases. Throughout the years it has been constantly affirmed and reaffirmed by medical professionals that sleep is integral to a child's development. Something has to change, parents must prioritise the health and well-being of their children over avoiding an argument about limits on their beloved screens.

An alternative to screen time is reading; at any age, a child should be reading or being read to. Children aged two and under benefit massively from being read to on a daily basis, the National Literacy Trust lists 'comfort and reassurance, confidence and security, relaxation, happiness and fun,' as being just some of them. Pearson UK suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests but also tend to have a larger vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures. A Cambridge study found that children who read for pleasure regularly had better memory, speech development, and mental well-being than those who didn't. Brain scans revealed that the children who read for pleasure for longer had moderately larger total brain areas/volumes including brain areas with critical roles in cognitive function.

As someone who grew up reading often and with restricted screen time, I can offer you my objective perspective on reading as a child. My passion for writing stems from my love of reading, it also gave me many precious memories with my family involving trips to the library and allowed me to immerse myself in entirely different worlds. Reading was then, and is now, one of my greatest sources of both joy and comfort, it accommodates me when I want to hide away from this world, as well as when I want to embrace it. It truly is so versatile, with something to everyone's tastes! Luckily, it can also be made more carbon-friendly with the many charity shops situated all over the UK, as well as numerous second-hand book-buying websites.

Open up your life to reading, no matter your age, and encourage those around you. Once you find the book for you, it can only do you good.