We live in the generation of the ‘three click society’. This refers to the average amount of time it takes a person to find the information they are searching for on the internet. Apps deliver Breaking News Alerts. New Releases from an author are documented in a Facebook Event. You can be sure that the book you need to read for your seminar tomorrow has been reviewed in some far off corner of the internet and features at least a loose plot synopsis.
Whilst I was growing up, my grandad used to subscribe to newspapers and magazines which released fortnightly copies of an Encyclopaedia or a classic novel which allowed me to grow both my love of literature, but also to build an essential information source which I still refer to today. Finding what you needed was admittedly time consuming, but the sources were no less relevant than those used today. This might seem an alien prospect this side of the twenty-first century but this emphasises the extent that the internet has taken over our lives within the past two decades.
Studies have revealed that people believe that the hectic rush of modern day lifestyles means that they simply don’t have the time to read a full novel. In between working, looking after others and all of the other mundane duties which contribute to daily life, they believe that there are too few hours remaining in order to become fully immersed in a book. Personally I believe this to be untrue; the truth is more likely to be we are too lazy to attribute our precious few free hours into a task which requires brainpower – people would much rather be spoon fed knowledge they want at a fraction of the time.
Recently a Twitter Account was activated which specialised in shortening book summaries down into a 140 character limit Tweet. One such summary of Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ has been shortened to: ‘Orphan given £££ by secret follower. He thinks it’s @misshavisham but it turns out to be @magwitch’ A variety of writers have expressed their opinions on this subject with Matthew Moore believing that: ‘the haiku-like brevity of the synopses will appeal to modern readers more accustomed to skimming their emails than working through 600-word tome.’ He believes that this format is now more appealing to modern day readers, yet I can’t help but wonder whether this conformity is assisting in the ongoing struggle between dedicating quality time to curling up with a story or spending an hour scrolling through Kendall Jenner’s Instagram feed.
The internet is an undeniable force to be reckoned with and cannot be ignored. The plethora of information made available within a few clicks is something we simply did not have access to in years gone by. Though despite its uses, it appears that this ease of access is over-riding old fashioned paper back knowledge, especially with the younger generations. This is something I personally find extremely sad and do feel a sad twinge any time a child is passed an IPad with an interactive game or video instead of a book. A recent survey of around 400 secondary school English teachers indicated their opinions as to why they believe that primary school children prefer the internet to reading a book:
“Two thirds of those questioned said that reading is not seen as “cool” by pupils, according to the poll by Pearson … And three quarters (77%) say that children’s attention spans are shorter than ever before, while 94% said that pupils prefer to be using the internet rather than reading … The poll reveals that teachers believe parents are not doing enough to help – 97% said parents should be encouraging their child to read more … And three in four (74%) believed that pupils do not spend enough time reading outside the classroom.”
To support this argument, you could utilise statistics showing the decline of paperback production throughout the years alongside surveys which indicate the average daily time people spend surfing the internet on their different types of technology. However, trends indicate that the production of paperbacks have not encountered a significant decrease to enable us to state this case. Holly Beattie points out that, ‘”…although there has been a decline in newspaper readership over the past few years due to the introduction of new technologies, there is still a great demand for the continuing production of books and newspapers.”’ She then continues by mentioning the rise of the e-reader and whether this form of technology has proved more popular than the traditional paperback: “Through talking to other young people I’ve learnt that they do in fact enjoy the process of reading a paper book compared to finding information on the internet or reading on a Kindle.
However this findings do not indicate laziness – reading a story on an e-reader such as a Kindle is equivalent to reading a paperback in terms of time spent. The most effective way of seeing this would be to consider newspaper readership. As aforementioned, this has declined within recent years, possibly due to the three clicks that mean you can find the stories that interest you on your tablet without having to go through three spreadsheet pages about the budget deficit. So maybe this is about convenience rather than laziness? Maybe giving your child an iPad to watch a Peppa Pig video to keep her quiet whilst you chat with your friends rather than an interactive book or some colouring is the best way to parent nowadays (who am I to comment?).
Either way, you can be sure you’ll know where to find me on a quiet Sunday afternoon. And you can be sure it won’t be scrolling through Daily Mail Online.
 Matthew Moore, ‘Twitter: Great Works of Literature Shortened Into Tweets’, The Telegraph, 11th May 2009 <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/5309001/Twitter-Great-works-of-literature-shortened-into-tweets.html> [accessed 20th April 2017] (para 15 of 21).
 Moore, ‘Twitter: Great Works of Literature Shortened into Tweets’ (para. 2 of 21).
 [Anon], ‘Primary School Children Prefer Internet to Reading, Warn Teachers’, Young Voices: Huffington Post, 20th August 2012 <http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/06/20/primary-school-children-prefer-internet-to-reading_n_1612528.html> [accessed 20th April 2017] (para 5 of 16).
 Holly Beattie, ‘Young Reporter: Is The Internet Making Us Lazy?’ The Grimsby Telegraph, 11th January 2014 <http://www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk/young-reporter-internet-making-lazy/story-20430815-detail/story.html> [accessed 18th April 2017] (para 12 of 20).
 Beattie, ‘Young Reporter: Is The Internet Making Us Lazy?’ (para 14 of 20).
This was another post straight over from my assessment blog at university – it’s very different from what I usually write but I did find it incredibly interesting to research. Let me know what you think!