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The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Turn off your phone and re-‘kindle’ your love for books

Societal trends destroyed this generation’s ability to enjoy reading
Lindsey Komson

I’m ashamed to admit it’s been a while since I’ve picked up a book. I was an avid reader growing up, from “The Chronicles of Narnia” novels, to the “Harry Potter” series, to a casual murder mystery or romance novel here and there. Lately I’ve been meaning to get back into the groove of getting lost in a good book but I can’t seem to fall in love with it the way I used to.

Social media and academic reading culture are to blame.

Reading takes focus and energy, two things that have been decreasing ever since the popularity of social media spiked in the 2000s. Because of the desire for instant gratification and hunger for the next activity caused by smartphones, maintaining a long attention span is a thing of the past.

A study of college students found they now only focus on any one task for 65 seconds, while a study of office workers found that they only focus for three minutes on average. The growing inability to focus is caused by the fixations that individuals have on their phones, per The Guardian.

Social media platforms are addictions. Our attention spans are deteriorating, not to mention the negative impacts that screen time can have on our eyes and brains. This is worrisome as a lot of college students will enter jobs in a few years that will require extensive reading and focus, something social media is stripping away.

College students and recent graduates are the groups that are experiencing the biggest decrease. Several surveys from Gallup show that recent college graduates show the largest decline in the number of books read from 1990 to 2021. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, reading was one of Americans’ favorite pastimes, with the number of books rising 21% in the year.

While social media is heavily impacting attention spans, it did also benefit the book community. TikTok users started a subsection of the app called BookTok, where users share their favorite novels and promote new stories. This brought books back to life for a moment, popularizing authors like Colleen Hoover and Adam Silvera.

The irony is almost comical, that it took the very social media app that made books insignificant to bring them back. While I’d love to place all the blame on social media, some responsibility belongs to academic institutions as well.

There’s a different kind of hatred I hold for professors who force unnecessary reading on students. I completely understand specific chapters that are mandatory for understanding topics in class, but typically the reading isn’t even needed for the course materials. Buying the textbook is pointless when the only information you need is in the PowerPoints and lectures.

There are several ways schools ruin reading for students, per The Washington Post. Quantifying reading — putting a limit on how much is to be read prior to the next class — is one of them. This makes reading a chore as opposed to something to enjoy. Additionally, writing summaries and reports on the text as if to prove that students read only fosters a deeper hatred for the activity.

Now, I know there are many other reasons that the accelerated readers from elementary school haven’t touched a book in college. One of them being that we simply don’t have enough time. College keeps students very busy, so during limited free time, we may choose a different leisure activity because free time is rare.

However, this doesn’t take away the positive impacts of reading. It improves your focus, memory, empathy and communication skills. When considering our future careers, these are skills that are essential to success. Reading also improves literacy, sleep, motivation and is a proven stress reliever, according to Time Magazine.

You may be thinking, “That sounds great. I should read more. But where do I start?”

The answer is incredibly simple, just pick up a book that piques your interest. If you need inspiration, you can find popular stories online or even check BookTok. It helps to try and work reading into your daily routine to help relax your mind. It’s also important to read things you like, and don’t be ashamed to quit a book halfway through if it’s not your taste.

Making space for books you’ll actually enjoy is all part of building a positive association with reading.

The next time I’m settling into bed, I’m going to put the blue light screen down and indulge in a crime thriller like I did years ago. I make plenty of time for social media, so it’s time I make some for classic paper and ink.

Challenge yourself to read tonight (this article doesn’t count) and see if it sparks a love for books that you either forgot was there, or never knew was there in the first place.

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About the Contributors
A.J. Newth, Opinion Editor
Lindsey Komson, Associate Design Editor

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  • V

    Valerie SmithOct 2, 2023 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you for your opinion piece, A.J.

    I agree that reading books is an important activity for everyone to engage in. The worlds, the cultures, the people, and the new and different ideas we are exposed to are all important and amazing! Not to mention the cognitive benefits we derive from reading.

    Again, thank you!