A stark reality check
According to Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University and author of “The Dumbest Generation”, leisure reading among American 15-to-17-year-olds fell from 18 minutes a day in 1981 to seven in 2003. Electronic media, of one sort or another, now occupy every spare moment.
Mr Bauerlein fears that, far from opening new vistas for learning and awareness, digital technology has fostered a level of public ignorance that now threatens not just our competitive wellbeing but our democracy as well.
To some extent, government statistics bear him out. Proficiency scores in reading, writing, science and mathematics for American teenagers in their last year of high school all fell between 1992 and 2005. Only one in three children left high school able to read proficiently. Only one in four could write a coherent paragraph.