how much does the average teen read

Average Teen Reading Habits: How Much?

Teenagers today are spending more time on social media than reading books, magazines, or newspapers for pleasure. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens report engaging in daily reading for enjoyment. Instead, more than 80 percent say they use social media every day. This decline in reading print media is especially apparent among older teens, with only 2 percent of 10th-graders and 16 percent of 12th-graders reporting reading a newspaper or magazine almost every day.

The rise of digital media and smartphones has significantly impacted the reading habits of teenagers. While technology has its benefits, it has also contributed to a decline in reading comprehension skills and the ability to focus for extended periods. The average American 12th-grader now spends more time on digital media activities than reading books or watching TV.

Despite this decline in reading habits, it is important to recognize the significance of reading for teens. Reading for pleasure not only helps improve focus, concentration, and mental stimulation but also enhances vocabulary, analytical skills, and comprehension. Encouraging teens to read more can have a positive impact on their academic performance and personal development.

Key Takeaways:

  • The majority of teens spend more time on social media than reading for pleasure.
  • The rise of digital media and smartphones has affected teen reading habits.
  • Reading for pleasure improves focus, vocabulary, and analytical skills.
  • Encouraging teens to read more can positively impact their academic performance.
  • A balance between digital media and reading is crucial for developing critical thinking skills.

Trends in Teen Reading Habits

average teen reading time

As digital media continues to shape the landscape of leisure activities, there has been a noticeable shift in the reading habits of teenagers. Research conducted in recent years indicates that teens in the 2010s have dedicated more time to online activities and less time to traditional media formats, such as books, magazines, and television.

On average, American 12th-graders spend approximately two hours per day texting, over two hours per day on the internet (including gaming), and just under two hours per day on social media. This amounts to a staggering six hours per day on just three digital media activities during their leisure time. Comparatively, 10th-graders report spending five hours per day on these three digital activities, while eighth-graders report four hours per day.

The decline in reading print media among teenagers is particularly significant. In the early 1990s, approximately 33 percent of 10th-graders reported reading a newspaper almost every day. However, by 2016, this figure had plummeted to a mere 2 percent.

The Impact of Digital Media

This shift in reading habits can be attributed to the rise of digital media and the widespread availability of smartphones and other devices. With instant access to a plethora of digital content, teens are often drawn to the engaging and interactive nature of online platforms. However, this increased focus on digital media consumption has come at the expense of reading books and other printed materials.

Teens in the digital age are spending more time engaging with online activities and less time reading books and print media.

Despite the decline in reading print media, it is worth noting that not all teenagers have abandoned traditional books. Many still appreciate the tactile experience and the sense of immersion that can be found within the pages of a printed book.

Comparing Reading Habits Among Different Age Groups

To gain a deeper understanding of the current reading landscape, it is essential to compare the reading habits of different age groups. While teenagers have shown a decline in reading print media, it is also crucial to examine how this trend compares to younger adolescents and adults.

Age Group Percentage Who Read a Newspaper Almost Every Day (Early 1990s) Percentage Who Read a Newspaper Almost Every Day (2016)
10th-graders 33% 2%

Impact of Digital Media on Teen Reading

average reading level of teens

The advent of digital media has significantly impacted the reading habits of teenagers. With the rise of smartphones and the increasing prevalence of digital content, teens are spending more time engaging with digital media than reading books or watching TV. This shift has had profound consequences for their reading comprehension skills, as well as their ability to focus for extended periods of time.

Reading comprehension skills and the ability to focus are crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills. The decline in reading among teens poses a challenge for educators and society as a whole.

The Decline in Reading Comprehension

The increasing reliance on digital media has led to a decline in reading comprehension skills among teens. The format of digital content, such as social media posts and online articles, often involves shorter sentences and simplified language. As a result, teens may struggle to engage with long-form, complex texts that require deeper analysis and critical thinking.

This decline in reading comprehension can have far-reaching effects on academic performance, as well as the ability to navigate and understand real-world issues. In an era of fake news and misinformation, the ability to critically evaluate information and discern fact from fiction is more important than ever.

The Impact on Focus and Attention Span

Digital media’s pervasive presence can also hinder teens’ ability to focus and maintain longer attention spans. With the constant availability of social media, instant messaging, and online entertainment, teens are often drawn into a cycle of distractions that can impede their reading habits.

“Being able to read long-form text is crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills.”

Studies have shown that sustained reading requires concentration and mental effort, which can be negatively impacted by the constant interruptions and stimuli of digital media. As a result, teens may find it challenging to engage with books or longer texts, hampering their overall reading experience and hinder their literary growth.

The Importance of Reading for Teenagers

Reading plays a vital role in the intellectual and personal development of teenagers.

Reading expands vocabulary, improves language skills, enhances comprehension abilities, and fosters critical thinking. It exposes teens to diverse perspectives, cultures, and ideas, allowing them to develop empathy and broaden their horizons. Furthermore, reading for pleasure has been linked to reduced stress levels and improved overall well-being.

Benefits of Reading for Teens
Enhances vocabulary and language skills
Improves comprehension abilities
Develops critical thinking skills
Fosters empathy and cultural understanding
Reduces stress and promotes well-being

Addressing the Decline in Teen Reading

Recognizing the importance of reading for teens, it is crucial to find ways to encourage and promote reading habits in the digital age.

  • Parents and educators should emphasize the value of reading and establish a reading-friendly environment at home and in schools.
  • Access to a wide range of reading materials, including digital books, can help cater to teens’ preferences and ensure they have access to diverse content.
  • Integrating reading-focused activities and discussions into the curriculum can encourage teens to engage with literature and develop a love for reading.
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By actively encouraging teens to read and providing them with the tools and resources necessary, we can help foster a generation of critically thinking individuals who appreciate the power and importance of reading.

Reading Habits Among Adults

reading statistics for adults

The decline in reading for pleasure is not limited to teenagers but is also seen among adults. According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center, approximately 25 percent of American adults have not read a book, whether in whole or in part, in the past year. This decline in reading habits is concerning as adults who regularly read serve as role models for their children, influencing their own reading behaviors.

The statistics reflect a shift in leisure activities, with a significant decrease in reading print media and an increase in digital consumption. The rise of smartphones and digital media has impacted the reading habits of adults, leading to a decline in overall reading time.

Engaging in the act of reading provides numerous benefits for individuals, including cognitive stimulation, expanded knowledge, enhanced vocabulary, and improved communication skills. It also fosters empathy and imagination, allowing readers to explore different perspectives and experiences.

Addressing the decline in reading habits among all age groups is crucial to nurture a culture of literacy and intellectual curiosity. Encouraging adults to prioritize reading and providing accessible reading materials can have a positive impact on their personal growth and well-being.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

To further highlight the decline in reading habits among adults, the following table presents reading statistics for adults in the United States:

Statistic Percentage
Percentage of adults who have not read a book in the past year 25%
Percentage of adults who read for pleasure 75%
Percentage of adults who read newspapers 45%

The table and image above provide a comprehensive overview of reading habits among adults, highlighting the decline in reading for pleasure and the importance of addressing this trend. Promoting a love for reading and encouraging adults to make reading a regular part of their lives can have far-reaching effects, ultimately contributing to a more literate and intellectually engaged society.

Benefits of Reading for Teens

Benefits of Reading for Teens

Despite the decline in reading habits among teens, the benefits of reading remain significant. Reading for pleasure has numerous advantages for teenagers, contributing to their overall development and well-being.

Improved Focus and Concentration: Reading requires concentration and focus, helping teens develop these essential skills. Immersing themselves in a book encourages deep engagement and allows for extended periods of uninterrupted concentration.

Mental Stimulation: Reading stimulates the brain and expands the mind. It exposes teens to new ideas, perspectives, and cultures, broadening their horizons and encouraging intellectual growth.

Enhanced Imagination: Reading fiction stimulates the imagination and encourages creativity. Teens can visualize characters, settings, and events, fostering their imaginative abilities.

Expanded Vocabulary: Reading exposes teens to a wide range of words and phrases, expanding their vocabulary. Through context, they can learn the meaning and usage of new words, enhancing their language skills.

Improved Analytical Skills: Reading helps teens develop critical thinking and analytical skills. They learn to analyze plotlines, characters, and themes, making connections and drawing conclusions.

Enhanced Comprehension: Regular reading improves reading comprehension skills, allowing teens to better understand complex texts and ideas. This skill is vital for academic success and lifelong learning.

Developed Writing Skills: Reading exposes teens to well-structured writing and different writing styles. It improves their grammar, sentence structure, and creative writing abilities.

Reduced Stress: Reading can be a therapeutic escape for teens, reducing stress and anxiety. Getting lost in a book helps them relax and unwind, promoting mental well-being.

Promotes Overall Well-being: Reading has a positive impact on teens’ overall well-being. It provides a sense of fulfillment, stimulates personal growth, and fosters a love for lifelong learning.

To summarize, encouraging teens to read more offers a multitude of benefits, including improved focus, concentration, mental stimulation, imagination, vocabulary, analytical skills, comprehension, and writing skills. Additionally, reading reduces stress and promotes overall well-being. By fostering a reading habit, we can positively influence teens’ academic performance and personal development.

Benefits of Reading for Teens
Improved Focus and Concentration
Mental Stimulation
Enhanced Imagination
Expanded Vocabulary
Improved Analytical Skills
Enhanced Comprehension
Developed Writing Skills
Reduced Stress
Promotes Overall Well-being

Encouraging Teens to Read

Ways to Encourage Teens to Read

When it comes to encouraging teens to read, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. However, there are several strategies that parents and educators can employ to inspire a love for books in young adults:

  1. Lead by Example: Being an avid reader yourself and reading together as a family can have a powerful influence on teens. Show them that reading is enjoyable and a valuable use of leisure time.
  2. Book Choices: Allow teens to choose books they love. Whether it’s fantasy, romance, or mystery, giving them the freedom to explore genres they find interesting can ignite their passion for reading.
  3. Summer Reading Programs: Create a summer reading program with achievable goals and enticing rewards. This can motivate teens to set aside dedicated time for reading during their break.
  4. Online Recommendations: Utilize platforms like BookTok and YouTube book videos to get suggestions for popular books among teenagers. Hearing recommendations from their peers can pique their curiosity and encourage them to pick up a new book.
  5. Library Visits: Take teens to the local library and let them explore the vast selection of books. Encourage them to borrow books that catch their attention and create a habit of visiting the library regularly.
  6. Carry a Book: Encourage teens to carry a book with them wherever they go. This way, they can make use of those “in-between” moments and develop a habit of reading during idle time.
  7. Teen Book Clubs: Participating in or starting a teen book club can foster a sense of community and provide a space for teens to discuss their favorite books with like-minded individuals. It can also introduce them to new authors and genres.

By implementing these strategies, parents and educators can foster a reading culture among teens and help them discover the joy and benefits of reading.

“Reading can unlock the doors to endless possibilities and spark the imagination. It’s a journey that every teen should embark on.”

Reading Habits and Technology

impact of technology on reading

“The access to digital media through smartphones and eReaders has changed the reading landscape.”

With the proliferation of technology, the way teens approach reading has undergone a significant transformation. While traditional paper books continue to hold their charm for some, many teenagers have embraced digital reading on their devices. According to a recent survey, 29.4 percent of teens use eReaders, 16.4 percent read online, and 13.5 percent prefer reading on their mobile phones.

This shift towards digital reading offers numerous benefits. The convenience of having a vast library at their fingertips, the ability to access books anytime, anywhere, and the option of adjusting font size and style to suit personal preferences has made reading on smartphones and eReaders an appealing choice for many teens. Additionally, digital platforms often provide interactive features, such as highlighting, note-taking, and instant access to definitions, enhancing the overall reading experience.

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While these technological advancements have transformed the reading experience, it is important to strike a balance between digital and print media. Encouraging teens to explore both formats can broaden their literary horizons and cater to their individual reading preferences. By embracing technology and providing access to a wide array of digital reading materials, educators and parents can adapt to the evolving reading habits of teens, cultivate a love for reading, and foster a lifelong learning mindset.

The Shift to Digital Reading

In today’s digital age, many teenagers are opting for the convenience and versatility offered by smartphones and eReaders. While traditional paper books continue to have their appeal, the ease of carrying multiple books in a single device and the ability to access an extensive library of digital content are compelling factors that have contributed to the rise of digital reading.

The increasing availability of digital reading platforms, such as Kindle, Nook, and Apple Books, has made it easier than ever for teens to access a wide range of literature, from classics to contemporary works. Additionally, platforms like Wattpad and online bookstores offer a plethora of free or affordable digital content, giving teens the opportunity to explore new genres and authors without breaking the bank.

This shift to digital reading has also had a positive impact on reading accessibility for teens. For individuals with visual impairments, eReaders and digital devices offer features like screen magnification, text-to-speech capabilities, and adjustable font sizes, enabling them to enjoy books with ease.

Challenges and Considerations

While the accessibility and convenience of digital reading are undeniable, they also present challenges. The prevalence of distractions, such as social media notifications and online games, can impede focus and concentration while reading on digital devices. Additionally, the blue light emitted by screens may disrupt sleep patterns, making it important for teens to establish healthy reading habits and designate screen-free time.

Furthermore, the tactile experience of holding a physical book, turning its pages, and even the scent of printed paper can evoke a sense of nostalgia and provide a more immersive reading experience for some individuals. Acknowledging and accommodating these preferences can help create a well-rounded reading environment that caters to both traditional and digital reading preferences.

All in all, technology has undoubtedly revolutionized the way teens engage with reading materials. By embracing the benefits of digital reading while also recognizing the unique experiences offered by print media, we can support teens in developing a well-rounded appreciation for the written word.

The Role of Libraries in Teen Reading

importance of libraries for teen readers

Libraries play a crucial role in promoting teenage reading. Research shows that 84 percent of teens have visited a public library in the past year, and 61.3 percent have borrowed a book from their local library.

Libraries often offer programs and events specifically designed for teens to encourage their reading habits. These programs can include book clubs, author visits, and summer reading programs. By providing a range of engaging activities, libraries create a welcoming and supportive environment for teens to explore literature and develop a love for reading.

Benefits of Library Programs for Teens

Library programs for teens offer numerous benefits, such as:

  • Enhanced Reading Skills: Library programs expose teens to a wide variety of books and genres, helping them develop their literacy skills and expand their reading horizons.
  • Critical Thinking: Engaging in book discussions and participating in literary activities foster critical thinking skills, as teens analyze and interpret different perspectives and themes found in literature.
  • Community Building: Library programs provide opportunities for teens to connect with their peers who share similar interests, creating a sense of belonging and encouraging social interaction.
  • Inspiration: Author visits and book clubs introduce teens to inspiring authors and stories, sparking their creativity and motivating them to explore their own writing.

Collaborating with libraries can be an effective way to engage teens and provide them with a variety of reading options. Libraries serve as valuable partners in promoting teen reading and nurturing a lifelong love for books.

Benefits of Reading Clubs for Teens

Teen book clubs offer a multitude of benefits for young adults, not only in terms of fostering a love for reading but also in creating a sense of community and personal growth. By participating in or starting a book club, teens have the opportunity to engage with literature in a meaningful and interactive way. Here are some of the key benefits of joining a teen book club:

1. Discussion and Critical Thinking

Joining a book club allows teens to discuss books with their peers, share their thoughts, and gain insights from different perspectives. Engaging in conversations about the themes, characters, and overall messages of the books helps develop critical thinking skills and encourages deeper analysis of the text. It provides a platform for intellectual discussions and the exploration of diverse ideas.

2. Recommendations and Genre Exploration

Book clubs provide an excellent opportunity for teens to discover new authors, genres, and books they may not have encountered otherwise. By sharing recommendations with fellow members, teens can broaden their reading horizons and explore a variety of genres, from classic literature to contemporary fiction, fantasy, mystery, and beyond. This exposure to different types of literature enhances their reading habits and expands their literary preferences.

3. Communication and Social Skills

Participating in a book club encourages teens to express their thoughts and ideas in a group setting. The inclusive and supportive environment of a book club fosters communication skills, allowing teens to articulate their opinions, engage in respectful debates, and listen actively to others. These interactions help develop effective communication and social skills, which are valuable in both academic and personal settings.

4. Personal Growth and Empathy

Reading and discussing books often expose teens to diverse perspectives, cultures, and life experiences. This exposure enables them to develop empathy and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the world around them. By stepping into the shoes of different characters and navigating through their challenges, teens broaden their horizons and cultivate a sense of empathy, compassion, and tolerance.

5. Lifelong Reading Habits

Participating in a teen book club instills a love for reading that can last a lifetime. By fostering positive reading experiences and providing a supportive community, book clubs help teenagers form a habit of reading regularly and cultivate a lifelong appreciation for literature. This habit of continuous learning and personal growth through reading can have a profound impact on their academic performance, creativity, and overall well-being.

Overall, teen book clubs offer a rewarding and enriching experience for young adults, helping them develop critical thinking, communication, and social skills while fostering a lifelong love for reading. By participating in a book club, teens not only enhance their reading habits but also form meaningful connections with other readers, creating a vibrant community passionate about literature.

Reading Books vs. Watching Movies

A fun and engaging way to encourage teen reading is to read a book and then watch the movie adaptation. This allows teens to compare and contrast the two mediums, discuss the differences, and analyze how the story is translated to the screen.

“Reading a book and watching its movie adaptation can spark meaningful conversations about storytelling techniques, character development, and narrative choices.”

By experiencing the same story through different mediums, teens can explore how the book’s imagery and imagination compare to the visual representations in the movie. They can identify how the director’s interpretation and cinematic techniques impact their understanding of the narrative.

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Comparing Books and Movies

When comparing books and movies, teenagers can delve into various aspects:

  • Storytelling techniques: Books often provide deeper insights into characters’ thoughts and emotions, while movies excel in visual storytelling and can enhance certain scenes.
  • Character development: Books offer more in-depth character exploration, allowing readers to connect with the protagonists on a personal level, while movies rely on actors’ portrayals and visual cues.
  • Narrative choices: Both books and movies make choices in terms of what to include or omit. Comparing these choices can lead to discussions about the effectiveness of different storytelling approaches.

Engaging in these comparisons helps teens develop critical thinking skills, as they analyze and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each medium.

Interactive Literature Experience

“Reading a book and then watching its movie adaptation provides teens with a unique opportunity to engage with literature in a multimodal and interactive way.”

By combining the textual experience of reading with the visual and auditory experience of watching a movie, teens can approach literature from multiple angles, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of the story. This interactive process can deepen their connection to the material and foster a lifelong love for both books and movies.

“Reading and watching adaptations helps teens explore literature from different angles and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of stories.”

The Importance of Reading for Personal Development

Reading goes beyond being just a source of entertainment; it is a powerful tool for personal development. By engaging in reading regularly, teenagers can experience personal growth and develop lifelong habits that contribute to their overall well-being.

Reading broadens horizons: Books open doors to new worlds, ideas, and perspectives. They expose teenagers to diverse cultures, historical events, and different ways of thinking. As young readers immerse themselves in various narratives, their understanding of the world expands, allowing them to develop a broader outlook on life.

Reading increases empathy: Literature enables teenagers to step into the shoes of characters from different backgrounds, fostering empathy and understanding. By experiencing life through the eyes of diverse individuals, readers develop compassion and empathy, important qualities for building meaningful relationships and navigating a diverse society.

Reading develops critical thinking skills: As teenagers engage with different genres and styles of writing, they learn to analyze and evaluate information critically. They gain the ability to identify logical inconsistencies, analyze arguments, and form their own opinions based on evidence and reasoning. These skills enable them to navigate the complexities of the modern world and make informed decisions.

Reading improves academic performance: Numerous studies have shown that teenagers who regularly read for pleasure perform better academically across various subjects. Reading improves vocabulary, comprehension, and writing skills, enhancing students’ overall academic achievements. It equips them with the necessary tools for success in school and future endeavors.

Reading enhances cognitive abilities: Engaging in sustained reading promotes concentration, focus, and mental stimulation. It exercises the brain, improving memory, attention span, and cognitive flexibility. These cognitive benefits extend beyond the act of reading, positively impacting other areas of teenage life, such as problem-solving skills and creativity.

By fostering a love for reading in teenagers, we empower them to embark on a journey of continuous learning and personal growth. Encouraging lifelong reading habits equips young individuals with the skills and mindset necessary to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.


The decline in reading habits among teenagers in the digital age is a cause for concern. However, there are still effective strategies to encourage teens to read and experience the numerous benefits of reading for pleasure. By creating a reading-friendly environment at home and in educational settings, we can foster a love for books and literature.

Providing teens with access to a diverse range of reading materials, including both print and digital options, allows them to explore different genres and find books that resonate with their interests and preferences. By offering a variety of choices, we can engage teens and make reading a more enjoyable and personal experience.

In addition, instilling the value of reading in teenagers is crucial. By highlighting the intellectual and emotional benefits of reading, we can help them understand the power of literature in expanding their horizons and developing critical thinking skills. Encouraging teens to read regularly and making it a part of their daily routines can have a long-lasting impact on their personal growth and cognitive abilities.

While the decline in teen reading habits may be a challenge, it is not insurmountable. By collectively addressing this issue and implementing strategies to promote reading, we can shape a generation of well-informed, curious, and empathetic individuals who recognize the value of reading in their lives.


How much does the average teen read?

According to research, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine, or newspaper daily for pleasure.

What are the trends in teen reading habits?

Teenagers are spending more time on digital media activities and less time with traditional media such as books and magazines.

What is the impact of digital media on teen reading?

The rise of digital media has resulted in a decline in reading comprehension skills and the ability to focus for longer periods of time.

What are the reading habits among adults?

Approximately a quarter of American adults have not read a book in whole or in part in the past year.

What are the benefits of reading for teens?

Reading for pleasure improves focus, concentration, mental stimulation, imagination, vocabulary, analytical skills, comprehension, and writing skills. It also reduces stress and promotes overall well-being.

How can we encourage teens to read?

Strategies include being an example, allowing teens to choose books they love, creating a summer reading program, and participating in or starting a teen book club.

How does technology impact teen reading habits?

Many teens are now reading on their smartphones, eReaders, and online platforms.

What is the role of libraries in teen reading?

Libraries play a crucial role in promoting teenage reading through programs, events, and access to a variety of reading materials.

What are the benefits of reading clubs for teens?

Reading clubs provide a supportive environment for teens to discuss books, share recommendations, and develop critical thinking and communication skills.

How does reading books compare to watching movies?

Reading books and watching movie adaptations can spark meaningful conversations about storytelling techniques, character development, and narrative choices.

What is the importance of reading for personal development?

Reading broadens horizons, increases empathy, exposes teenagers to diverse perspectives and experiences, and helps develop critical thinking skills.

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