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Needless to say, that current generation of youth has been doing everything to avoid reading and getting information and knowledge just like their parents used to do. The reason for that is technological revolution, emergence of the Internet, and digital technologies invading almost all spheres of social life. As such, there have been made investigations on the quality of digital education presented in Mark Bauerlein’s book The Dumbest Generation. Namely, the chapter under consideration is the second one The New Bibliophobes. Although there are wonderful methods of acquiring knowledge nowadays, students’ literacy still leaves much to be desired because they avoid reading tangible books due to the lack of inclination and because of the desire to use up-to-date easy-to-get sources.
The Emergence of Bibliophobes
The second chapter of the book is just a wonderful revelation of the contemporary literacy situation in the society among youth. Unlike several decades ago, modern teenagers choose to learn with the help of the Internet which is not always beneficial for them. However, majority of young people studying in schools, colleges, and universities would rather enter online library database than go to local library for research. The reason for that are user-friendly databases, whereas the libraries on-site offer long-term searching process often without splendid results. Online libraries, on the contrary suggest looking for the necessary material by key words which is faster and frequently more productive. Writing an academic paper using real books, however, always means a thorough investigation of the book’s content, while the students would like to avoid that and use electronic sources for summaries and critique which saves time. This is how the literacy level is reduced every day, for students do not feel like reading books in full size and getting a deeper sense while there are so many other tempting digital alternations waiting for them.
Bibliophobes vs. Older Generation
“18-24 year olds formed the second strongest reading group in 1982. Now they form the weakest” (Bauerlein, p. 46). The statement is a result of survey presented in the second chapter of the book. It was examined how many reading people there were in 1982-2002 and it turned out that back in 1982 people aged between 25-34 were the ones to read the most. However, until 2002 the situation has changed dramatically: the age group 45-54 happened to be the one to read books. Evidently, this happened due to technological advances that took place in the end of the previous century. It has to be mentioned that there is a notion of the generation gap. It was one of those crucial things to form the overall concept of accepting informational technologies’ changes. Elderly people have not acquired new technology skills until late 1990s. Thus, youth was already forming their own sphere of property, though not looking back at the advantages of the gone-by learning process. As a result the elder generation acquired all the necessary electronic devices, sources, and other means yet having the precious knowledge from the non-digital ways of studies. Sadly, new generation of bibliophobes has its digital knowledge only.
The True Devastation
The bibliophobes’ generation has grown quickly after the Internet invasion. As a result, kids who had started using Internet for their homework and just for fun back in middle schools instead of reading intelligent books could not trespass a low literacy level and enter college. Or after they were accepted to college, they had to take remedial courses. “Two-year colleges spend $1.4 billion a year improving skills that should have been acquired in high school” (Bauerlein, p. 63). The annual High School Survey of Students Engagement (HSSSE) shows that almost half of teenagers of the US consider reading to be unimportant. Unfortunately, contemporary students do not read books as much as it is enough for perfect spelling skills, for example. A generation ago people deemed reading to be one of the most interesting entertainments for the weekend, while today there are many more entertainment kinds for an average teenager rather than sitting at home and reading a book. However, for the sake of justice, it must be said that personal preferences are still the same and a person who loves to read will prefer a book to a brief synopsis nowadays, as well. Nevertheless, the influence of digital technologies cannot be underestimated. Teenagers are likely to read well-publicized books, the popular ones, though more often they simply choose to watch the screen version.
At least two essential skills are lost in such an unconscious battle against literacy: writing and reading skills. So, to crown it all, it is impossible to avoid digital means of learning because they are tempting due to easy usage but we have to remember that digital devices do not give that richness and profoundness in knowledge as books do. Although spending time online crucially levels up our chances to get a very nice job position in future (since no sphere works without IT), still reading books develops memory, attention, analytical and reading, skills, while Internet technologies just make use of all of the above.
Bauerlein, Mark. The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30). New York: Tarcher, 2009. Print.