OECD: students that spend more time online have greater reading skills

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

This article is receiving some attention on Meneame today. It seems that students of 15 years of age that spend a lot of time online have greater reading skills than those that don't. I don't have the time to delve into the report myself (you can find it here) but it seems to group nearly all online activity together: reading email with reading news, chatting with participating in group discussions. If so then that would be a pity, as it would be more interesting to compare the reading ability of students (or anybody else) that spend most of their time participating in online discussions and forums compared to those that prefer to chat one on one. I would assume that the former would have a greater reading ability due to the greater number of participants (you never know who is going to respond to what you write in an open forum) and the stronger emphasis on winning people over to your opinion, which often requires more sourcing and the ability to write effectively. There is also the odd grammar nazi that comes along to inform you that it's anyway, not anyways, and how to properly use a semicolon. Doing that while chatting one on one, however, is a quick way to lose a friend.

Some of the article:

Some experts have warned about the dangers of the internet age, how quick and easy access to information in small doses will harm reading ability. The American writer Nicholas G. Carr is one of these. 
It is natural that new technologies change use and custom, but recent information from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) from the OECD seems to indicate that this is not a danger to reading skills. 
On the contrary, "students familiar with things like reading email, chat, reading online news, dictionaries and internet encyclopedias, participation in group discussions online and reading information on the internet have in general a greater reading ability", says the report which analyzed students of 15 years of age from 65 countries. 
On the other hand, it does note that the percentage of students that read for pleasure has decreased. In 2000 PISA showed that 69% of students said they read a little a day for pleasure; last year this dropped to 64%. In Spain this went from 68% to 60% over the same time period.

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