Reading a book engages the senses in so many wonderful ways—the feeling of paper gliding underneath your fingers as you turn pages, the smell of the ink on the newspaper and the way it stains your hands, using special bookmarks to save your place. Writing stories, journal entries, letters, and even postcards are also an everyday art form that virtually everyone has practiced at some point.
However, the definition of reading and writing has changed in the digital age. Screens and keyboards have become the new paper and pen, and that trend shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.
For millennials, the “texting trap” has become a greater concern for parents, educators, and reading and writing tutors with each passing year. Texting and internet jargon utilize acronyms, symbols or pictures such as emojis, and broken English to communicate. However, this communication style has grown to hold significant power in the lives of modern students, and many experts argue that today’s successful communicators must be adept at using it.
One thing is abundantly clear: children are spending more time on the Internet. A Kaiser Family Foundation study of over 2,000 children from 8 to 18 years old found that nearly half used the Internet on a typical day in 2004, which was way up from just under a quarter in 1999. These children spent an average of one hour and 41 minutes online in 2004, as opposed to only 46 minutes in 1999.
As scores on standardized reading and writing tests have stalled or dropped in recent years, some experts argue that the countless hours students spend texting or surfing the Internet are the proverbial enemy. They believe that the increased screen time ruins attention spans, diminishes literacy and destroys a timeless culture of reading books.
However, many other literacy experts say the Internet has created a different kind of reading that still involves some engagement with text. Web proponents believe that reading five Web sites, an op-ed article and a blog post or two, can be more enriching than reading one book because it offers a variety of viewpoints. Additionally, some children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities have found reading and searching for information on the internet less intimidating than books. Even further, some literacy experts argue that online reading skills will help children find success in searching for employment in the digital age.
Any English tutor or teacher can tell you that reading a book and reading online utilize different comprehension skills and show different learning outcomes. However, even those who are most concerned with preserving the use of books in language arts instruction acknowledge that children benefit most from a variety of reading experiences.
If you are looking to hire a reading and writing tutor, remember that our REACH tutors are credentialed teachers that are trained to work with students to improve understanding and confidence in any subject. Give us a call today at 1-877-947-3224 so we can help your student become a more successful communicator, no matter what the format.