People are spending more than 4 hours per day on social media

Depending on where you live, internet users are spending more than 4 hours per day on social media. The Philippines, Nigeria and Brazil have high usage levels. Coincidentally or not, progress in the global adult literacy rate is slowing down.

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Stephanie Lo
March 18, 2022 10:55 pm

As an avid reader myself, personally it’s rather disheartening to see fewer people reading for leisure and fewer patrons frequenting the libraries or bookstores. With the rise of technology, books have been partly replaced by the recently growing market of podcasts and other digital forms of media like music streaming, Netflix, and of course, social media. I do think that a major factor for this phenomenon is that we are more inclined to consume or spend time on activities that need less “work”. It’s easier to just press play on a mobile app and just sit back and watch or listen than opening a book and actually reading. When you already have school work that necessitates reading, there’s less motivation to do more of the same thing in your valuable spare time. Nonetheless, I believe that when one finds books, magazines or comic books that are more in line with their personal interests and hobbies, then it becomes a more appealing activity.

I believe that technology plays a big role in taking up time and offering distractions for children and adults alike, thus causing reading to be less popular nowadays. I remember that when I was younger, teen & young adult literature was quite trendy and encouraged reading. Some globally famous book series like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight etc. created many film adaptations as well as inspired love of reading for people. I think that more could be done in this area to improve popular culture’s representation in literature.

Taabia Ahmed
April 3, 2022 5:51 pm

When I was a little girl, I remember reading books every night before bedtime with my mother and that’s the reason I suppose I feel connected with books. Unfortunately, nowadays, I don’t see many kids spending time in reading for leisure. They only read books that are part of their school curriculum. Their hobbies are surrounded by gadgets, playing games, using social media or streaming videos.

According to one Gallup Pakistan poll, 3 out of 4 Pakistanis claim not to read any books at all. It’s common to see people reading newspapers (usually elders) and reference books preparing for certifications/exams but a sight of a person reading book for leisure is rare.

One reason for this lack of reading I believe is the lack of reading “environments”;

1. There not many libraries in towns. One has to drive for 30-45 minutes to reach a central library which is often not kept up to date.
2. Private libraries are limited with costly memberships.
3. Parents lack of encouragement for reading at bedtime or free time to their kids.
4. Schools/institutes not adding good and interesting books to syllabus/ curriculum.

Other than the above points, the eagerness or urge to enjoy a quality book is missing. You can see 9 out of 10 people using cellphones in any waiting area (hospital, airport, you name it) but only one or none holding a book. So yes technology has played its part in declining this habit.

There are a few people and organizations arranging literary festivals, books exhibitions, reading corners and book sharing services to revive the fading reading culture in Pakistan. I hope this trend continues in my country and parents try to encourage good reading habits.

Aaron Seleka
April 1, 2022 3:04 pm

One of the saddest realities of the modern world is the disappearance of a reading culture. In South Africa it is the same. We see kids on tablets and smart devices all day and the traditional novel is gone. But when I scratch the surface of my own anecdotal observations, maybe reading has not disappeared, it has just changed.

The first thing to admit is that multimedia is bright and shiny and sparkly and the visuals are amazing, to it is easier to look at than printed words on a page. I got to thinking recently though, what drives social media? What drives all the conversations people have on the internet? For the most part it is language. People still have to be literate to communicate. Yes we can argue that there are a lot of emojis and gifs and such, but remember that Google alone processes 63,000 searches per second. Search results by and large produce links to websites that are written in some language.

As to the actual reading culture, my teenage niece has fallen in love with manga comics which she reads all day on her tablet device. She is even trying to writer her own manga comic. My nephew reads sports articles and analysis on his device all day. So while I agree that reading the great novelists is a thing of the past, our language has changed. Rising internet usage and reading don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

April 8, 2022 10:50 am

If you have ever wondered if reading is a worthwhile pastime, consider this brief story a teacher told me when I was in school.

Students had been told to prepare for a big test. It was drilled into them how important it was. It would determine your class in the following academic year. If you scored well, the rumor went, you’d be in a high performing class and if you did badly, you’d be in a lower class. Status was and still is a big deal. No one wants to be in the dumb class. There were also rumors that students who got into the high performing classes had better resources and opportunities.

When the test started, students furiously scribbled down their answers on the test papers. Yeah, yeah. This was before everything was done on a computer. One guy, however, stood up and casually walked out of the exam hall after a minute. Some of the other students looked at him aghast, wondering what the heck he was doing.

The story goes, the instructions were made very clear. Write your name down on the front sheet and your test is complete. There is no requirement to answer any of the test questions. This student who walked out read the instructions. Others bypassed that section and went straight to the questions. Their test lasted 2 hours and was a extremely tiring. The worst part is, they failed the test. The one requirement to pass was to write your name on the first page and answer no questions.

So if you’re a student and you think social media is a better use of your time than reading, think again 😉

April 6, 2022 1:29 pm

Kenya’s literacy rate is 81.5%. It is 85% for men and 78% for women. A lot of illiteracy cases occur in pastoralist communities where education is not highly valued. These communities believe that a woman is supposed to stay at home and should not be in school. Nowadays the government is hitting hard on these cases and every child in Kenya must be in school. Government officers are going to every home even in rural areas to ensure all children of school-going age are in school. If they find your child at home, you are likely to be prosecuted. They have also made basic education free to ensure no child fails to go to school for lack of money.

Also social media isn’t all bad. Personally, twitter trends alert me of world affairs before I watch them on international news stations. As the rate of youth unemployment is so high, youths have used social media as platforms to build their business brands as comedians, artists, influencers, and other careers that can be nurtured by social media. Social media has made the lives of many Kenyan youths better than what academic degrees could do.