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December 22, 2006

The kidz R alright

photo of text messaging girls by Moritz/flickr.com. Original, and Creative Commons licensing, at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mo/22337757/

Nothing angers me more than pundits who spout off about how today's crazy mix of video games, text messaging, music videos, TV, film and rock and rap music is somehow destroying the minds of our youth. They particularly love to make the claim that kids and teens are reading less and are therefore, ipso facto, becoming less intelligent. The fact that there's a big pile of evidence showing just the opposite seems to not matter at all.(*)

An article on Technology Review's website should help shut those people up. In it, Timothy Shanahan, president of the International Reading Association, points out that inventions like e-mail, instant messaging, and mobile text messaging are causing kids to put more emphasis on reading and writing skills than a generation ago.

Meanwhile, reading of traditional printed books has become more fun for kids in the past several years. The article talks about the explosive popularity of the Harry Potter and Series of Unfortunate Events books; works that are longer, more challenging, and more literary than the most popular youth books of a decade or two ago.

Shanahan says the best mix is to let your kids do everything...text and IM their little fingers raw plus have them read great stories.

Take that, book only snobs.

(*)For a good overview of the distortions of the anything-but-reading-is-bad crowd, read Steven Johnson's Everything Bad is Good For You.

(Photo by Moritz/flick.com)

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Posted by Chris Spurgeon at December 22, 2006 10:53 AM

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