Don’t take it as a personal attack, but according to experts at the University of Dundee, there’s a chance that picking up books written by YouTubers is making you stupider. You may not believe it, but a study shows that in recent years the reading age of secondary school children has decreased, whilst the popularity of authors like Zoella have skyrocketed.
The survey, called What Kids Are Reading, analysed the reading habits of nearly 9 million children across the United Kingdom to find out their literacy levels in addition to measuring their reading age for the very first time. It found that children were picking up less “challenging” books in secondary school, meaning that by the time they sat their GCSEs aged 16, most had reading ages of only 13.
Results also show that the most popular books for primary school children are dominated by J.K Rowling and her Harry Potter series; with The Philosopher’s Stone and The Prisoner of Azkaban taking the top two spots, respectively. However, when children move into secondary school, the titles topping the list of their favourite books are both Girl Online and Girl Online: On Tour.
Keith Topping, the education and social research professor at the University of Dundee, had this to say about his findings: “Alas, the Zoella books are not as challenging as the J.K Rowling books, we do have an issue there… I do grieve about children wanting to read books that are not challenging enough… The decline in children’s reading age during secondary school is pronounced. In previous years there was some evidence of it, but this year is much more striking”.
But what do you think? Do you believe reading books written by YouTubers instead of authors such as J.K Rowling and J.R.R. Tolkien have caused a decline in children’s intelligence? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.