Fiction books are taking second place

In the past decade, the leisurely activity of reading has slowly been replaced by the entertaining aspects of phones and computers. But this does not necessarily mean that young people are reading less. It may just mean that the activity of reading is manifesting itself in a different form than the traditional physical style.

In a random survey of 50 students who attend Waynesburg University, the question “What type of reading materials are you most likely to read?” was posed. Students could choose between six responses: fiction books, nonfiction books, magazines, newspapers (either print or online), blogs or articles they discovered on social media. More than half the students who participated in the survey chose to answer “articles found on social media” over the other responses.

The results of the survey showed that only 35 percent of the students chose “fiction books,” putting “fiction books” in second place.

When asked why they chose the answers they did, many of the students who answered “articles found on social media” said they just do not have the time to sit down and read books as much anymore, especially while they are at college. Despite lacking the amount of time to read, the majority of college students have at least one source of social media on their phones and computers. Scrolling down a screen to read an article haphazardly found during a short (or long) social media distraction session is just so much easier, according to these students, than hauling another book in their backpack that they might not even get the chance to read.

Despite social media articles’ obvious lead over fiction books in the survey, the other remaining choices of newspapers, nonfiction books, magazines and blogs do not even add up to 15 percent together. In fact, magazines and blogs did not even receive one vote out of the participating students. Even the majority of students who chose to answer “newspapers” said they read them online or through an app.

A random survey of 50 students cannot possibly answer for the entire university, much less the population of college-age students, but it does present a small sample of how the students of Waynesburg University are approaching the activity of reading in a modern way.