Trend towards digital reading negatively affects concentration, research finds

The internet's effect on our reading habits is already starting to show, according to the latest research from Read NZ.

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The internet’s effect on our reading habits is already showing, according to a new study by Read NZ. Source: 1 NEWS

"We were surprised that people were actually finding the effects of online reading - that they're finding it hard to concentrate on reading things," Read NZ chief executive Jo Cribb said.

"Our reading quality has definitely gone down, we are skimming, we're not really processing it," she said about reading text on websites and social media.

The advocacy organisation commissioned a two-part survey, which saw adult Kiwis with internet access report their reading habits via text daily and/or complete a survey, with a combined 647 responses in total.

'Reading in a Digital Age' reported the internet is not replacing traditional reading, but displacing it, and with that comes an increase in skim reading and switching between sources.

Readers reported a lower level of engagement with what they're reading online.

The majority of those surveyed said they read both online and text on paper every week, but at any time, Kiwis are reading more online than on paper.

"We need to take responsibility and actually keep on reading and if it's hard and long, maybe you still just have to get on through it," Ms Cribb said.

Read NZ is concerned that 44 per cent of readers surveyed reported finding it harder to read long and challenging text than in the past.

"We even say that when we get to a hard or long piece of text we'll stop, we won't read it," Ms Cribb said.

One in three readers surveyed think they're reading more now than previously due to the availability of text online.

Ms Cribb said the information will be used in campaigns targeting men and young people to increase reading rates in New Zealand.

"If you show that reading is important and it's something that's really enjoyable, your kids will follow," she said.

Read NZ reports around 40 per cent of adult Kiwis don't have the literacy ability to be fully involved in society and the economy.