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27 Apr, 2013

Homework, games limit Chinese kids’ reading

(Shanghai Daily)

April 23, 2013 –  A heavy load of studies and homework is a primary reason hindering local students from reading after school, a report released yesterday by the Youth League’s children and teenager research center showed.

More than 1,400 local students in the fourth to the seventh grade were surveyed about their extracurricular reading hours and reading habits. About 52 percent of them did extra reading for about 30 minutes and about 12 percent read less than 15 minutes, the report said.

Lu Min, a researcher who conducted the survey, said the research team found students didn’t take much time for reading because they had to finish homework or attend after-school classes.

“The students don’t take up a good reading habit. Therefore, during their limited spare time, they prefer to watch television, play online games or chat online with classmates,” Lu said.

Only 35 percent of students read for at least an hour after school, and half of the total students said they prefer digital reading – which has drawbacks compared with traditional reading materials such as books or newspapers.

The report said half of the students go to school libraries once a week while 7.7 percent never go. The most popular books for kids are literature, followed by science fiction and comic books.

Nearly 56 percent of the students used digital terminals such as cellphones and tablet computers to read, and 42.4 percent often read on computers, the report said.

“Digital reading, though convenient, has drawbacks,” Lu said, noting that students tend to give up reading when links to games, videos and other entertainment pops up.

“The multimedia terminals such as smartphones and iPads easily distract students’ attention to play other entertainment applications installed in the terminal,” Lu said.

Lu said students should be given more time for extracurricular reading. The survey didn’t compare the reading hours of local children to those in other cities or countries.

Digital reading is getting popular, but the survey showed only 9.4 percent read most of their extracurricular materials online. Nearly 40 percent of students still bought books for reading and 32 percent borrowed from libraries.