Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sign of the Times

"Children as young as seven are more likely to own a mobile phone than a book, figures show, fuelling fears over a decline in reading."

Source.

21 Comments:

At 5/26/2010 9:31 AM, Anonymous DrTorch said...

Bad link.

Which is to say, that I don't believe this anyway. I have a 7 year old, and none of his peers have a cell phone.

 
At 5/26/2010 9:59 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Well Dr. Torch if by 'bad link' means that you didn't get the UK Telegraph story then I had better luck...

"I have a 7 year old, and none of his peers have a cell phone"...

Now I live in the St. Louis, Mo area (St. Louis county actually) and over the last year or so there have been stories on the local news that 1st and 2nd grade kids in west part of the county and in the county across the Missouri river are starting to sport rather sophisticated cell phones...

Funny thing is, I don't remember any of the local newsies claiming what percentage of kids are sporting these cell phones though...

I never thought of any part of Missouri being on the 'social cutting edge' of anything let alone something technical...

 
At 5/26/2010 10:06 AM, Blogger Andrew said...

Well, survival of the fittest I suppose, no? My guess is those who are less literate are probably less likely to succeed in a career. Less competition for the competent!

But, on a more serious note, this is obviously not good, however true it might be - just another example of how terrible people can be at parenting.

 
At 5/26/2010 10:39 AM, Blogger 1992XR650L said...

Why should having a phone at a young age be automatically bad? With more members of the household working, cell phones are an excellent way of keeping in touch.

Nowadays it is a rare luxury to have one of the parents be a stay at home caregiver. Don't blame the parents, they are doing what they can to keep their families together.

Operating these devices will be a needed skill for the future. Most people text rather than call.

 
At 5/26/2010 10:47 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

Attn. Good DrTorch, get your kid an I-Phone and then download the Kindle Reader app.
The child will then have an e-reader as well as a phone. Individual reading results may vary.

BTW, I downloaded the Kindle for the my notebook pc from the link above.

 
At 5/26/2010 10:55 AM, Blogger Luke TAMU said...

All I do is read on my mobile phone. I read much more than I speak...

 
At 5/26/2010 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember a study that was supposed to determine if calculators were good or bad for children learning math.

One group got calculators, one group didn't, and a third roup got calculators that were programed to give wrong answers - sometimes.


The students with calculators that were occasionally wrong, learned not to trust them and how to quickly determine for themselves if the answer was wrong: they learned more math faster than either of the other groups.

Aside from the fact that the issue of cell phones and reading are probably unrelated, we should be less concerned about whether our children can read, and more concerned that they can differentiate among the gibberish printed.

 
At 5/26/2010 11:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cell phones now have a GPS app that means parents can tell where the kid is - could be useful

 
At 5/26/2010 12:30 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

The reading study could have it backwards. Perhaps children who have high reading skills and enjoy reading are more likely to have books in their homes.

Children having phones to stay connected to family seems like a good idea, but on the downside, I'm convinced that texting will destroy literature as we know it in a single generation.

 
At 5/26/2010 12:57 PM, Blogger QT said...

"we should be less concerned about whether our children can read, and more concerned that they can differentiate among the gibberish printed"

well said, Anon.!

Aside from the opportunity cost (a bit like blogging!), cell phones create more opportunity for social development arguably as important for children who will end up working and managing people. Will the little bookworms have the same level of social skills?

Past predictions that books will disappear with the advent of technological innovations do not seem to have materialized (ie. radio, cinema, TV, the internet). Are we not underestimating the enjoyment that one derives from well written book?

The power of the written word has been a force that has shaped human history. Call me a sceptic but I find it is difficult to believe that literature will cease to exist.

 
At 5/26/2010 1:01 PM, Blogger OA said...

That's pretty startling for Britain. Hundreds of years of literary tradition, including children's stories, and 30% don't have books of their own. Although if their parents had their own libraries of a sort, then maybe that stat is not quite right.

But for cell phones, it Looks like the rate in the US is more like 20% to 30% up through 11 year olds. Pretty big difference from the 80% for that age group in the UK.

http://www.wirelessandmobilenews.com/2010/01/cell-phone-ownership-by-children-kids-up-68-in-five-years-says-mri.html

 
At 5/26/2010 1:10 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

I have frinds who have no books in their house, not even magazines. I just can't imagine what it must be like: my family home was and my house is practically insulated with books.

Then there is this (true story): someone compalining to a blog----

"A 'teacher' told my child in class that dolphins were mammals and not fish!" a third complains. "And the same thing about whales! We need TRADITIONAL VALUES in all areas of education. If it swims in the water, it is a FISH. Period! End of Story."

[posting my name for those that ave complained.]

 
At 5/26/2010 2:51 PM, Anonymous sprewell said...

I must also praise the Anon who said we should be more concerned that people "can differentiate among the gibberish printed." I have to disagree with his calculator example though, where he assumes the goal is for people to learn math, whereas the real goal is for them to be able to use it, which a calculator is the best tool for. Similarly, it's funny when people confuse one way of transmitting information, reading, for the ability to receive and, more importantly, process that information. With audiobooks and automated tools that will read text to you, most people can learn a lot more through audio, without even knowing how to read. One of my favorite comedians is highly informed and literate, even though he doesn't read, simply through listening to the radio and watching TV channels like the History Channel or Discovery. His rare ability to analyze situations is impeccable, yet he does it without reading almost anything. Hilarious that those wringing their hands over the decline of reading exemplify that common inability to process information and reason about it, evidenced by the dumb argument that reading matters.

 
At 5/26/2010 3:17 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

A mobile phone is no match for a unionized teacher when it comes to dumbing down the children.

Half of them can barely read themselves.

 
At 5/26/2010 4:05 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

I have to disagree with his calculator example though, where he assumes the goal is for people to learn math, whereas the real goal is for them to be able to use it, which a calculator is the best tool for.

Good point. At the time people hadn't yet made the jump to consider a calculator as a tool for using math. It was considered more of a way to cheat.

The purpose of the study was to determine if calculators helped or hindered in learning basic math skills: +,-.*./..

The answer was that calculators helped most if they were broken and not to be trusted.

In those days no one ever considered that we might never need to learn those functions: that what you have a calculator for.

The purpose of the example was the analogy that what the calculators provide and what books provide is not always correct: you can read the calculator or the book, but it helps to have some sense as to what is right.

 
At 5/26/2010 4:12 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

His rare ability to analyze situations is impeccable, yet he does it without reading almost anything.

I knew a boat builder who could not read, but he knew how to figure out anything mechanical. I asked him about it, he said it was nothing special, he knew antother boatbuilder who was blind!

Turned out he was an undiagnosed dyslexic (his teachers just thought he was stupid), he got special help and was reading at 8th grade level in two years.

 
At 5/26/2010 4:18 PM, Blogger QT said...

Hydra,

It also helps to question and subject what you encounter to verification as well as the smell test.

As Ronald Reagan would say "Trust but verify". All too often we evaluate the information based upon our opinion of the trustworthiness of the source rather than the completeness of the information.

Most people trust doctors for example but would you trust Dr. Andrew Wakefield?

 
At 5/26/2010 5:47 PM, Anonymous Hydra said...

"It also helps to question and subject what you encounter to verification as well as the smell test."

Yeah, perfect knowledge would be great. Sometimes (often) it comes down to belief, and how do you verify that?

I say, find some way to put a price on it. As soon as you find a way to creae a market and put a price on it, you find out what people are willing to pay for their beliefs.

Consequently I'm more prone to accept (grudgingly) a positive incentive than a negative one.

If I want some polluter to clean up, I had better be willing to pay him to do what I want done. That sems wrong, but what it does is ensure that I don't force him to spend more of his property than the value of my property protected is worth.

 
At 5/26/2010 11:03 PM, Blogger QT said...

Hydra,

As they say in I, Claudius "Trust no one"

 
At 5/27/2010 8:09 AM, Anonymous Rand said...

In order to "text" they have to be able to read. Well, sort of read.

 
At 5/28/2010 8:54 AM, Blogger Life in Russia said...

It's good that they use it not for talks but for messages. So we don't need books anymore. Now we have the Internet.

 

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