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Swedish kids' reading skills hit by computer use: report

Rebecca Martin · 12 May 2011, 11:23

Published: 12 May 2011 11:23 GMT+02:00

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“This is a danger to the whole Swedish learning society,” Monica Rosén, professor of pedagogics at the Gothenburg University, told The Local.

Rosén has been studying the reading habits of Swedish nine and ten-year olds over the last twenty years.

The study shows that results of reading tests for students in year four in the Swedish primary school (grundskola) are looking increasingly more like those of year three results from twenty years ago.

Surprisingly, it is not the number of non-proficient readers that has increased; instead it is the number of proficient readers that have diminished.

According to Rosén, one of the reasons for this is that when children reach the age when they traditionally read the most (9-12) many today choose computer games over books.

“It isn’t so much that the interest in reading is dwindling, but rather that leisure time activities have changed over the years,” Rosén told The Local.

The decrease is most noticeable among boys; a fact that Rosén thinks is reflected in boys traditionally being at the forefront of screen-based activities. But, she points out, girls are not far behind.

According to Rosén, boosting reading skills is important for Sweden not in the least if the country wants to be able to compete internationally.

“We have gone from a top position compared to other countries to a middling one,” Rosén told newspaper Metro.

Not being good at taking in textual information also makes learning other subjects like maths or science more difficult.

Rosén points out that the level of proficiency in Sweden in these subjects has decreased over the last few years compared to other countries.

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“Our entire society is built on taking in and interpreting textual information, so there is a risk that differences between individuals will increase,” Rosén told The Local.

In order to combat this it will be important for schools to recognise the problem and adapt the curriculum accordingly. But parents have a responsibility too.

“Sweden is a great literary country both when it comes to children’s and adults’ books. We are their role-models and we can choose to pick up a book every now and again,” she said.

Rebecca Martin (rebecca.martin@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:49 May 12, 2011 by StockholmSam
Could this be why developing nations are excelling in academics while many developing nations are falling behind? Is it that the Chinese and other Asian kids don't have so much access to TV and computers?
14:51 May 12, 2011 by Russ Cobleigh
I dont think this is necessarily true. My son is 19 and plays a lot on his computer, but; he also spends a decent amount of time reading, in both english and swedish. It is up to the parents to get the kids motivated and not just blame the computer. Also think of the invaluable computer skills the kids today have.
15:24 May 12, 2011 by unt9
So we need to make more creative and more intellectual games to educate our children.
17:33 May 12, 2011 by calebian22
Or, "Turn off the computer, and go read a book." Problem solved.
17:57 May 12, 2011 by glamelixir
I think they are also refering to reading comprehension skills, not necessarily the interest in reading itself.

The decrease in reading and the increase in pre processed information provided by the internet makes it more difficult to work with more elaborate texts that content large amount of interpretation needed.

So it is not necessarily the interface but what is in it the problem. If they are to read in kindle instead or a laptop instead of a printed book is indistinct. What is changing is the way in which younger generations approach information.
18:29 May 12, 2011 by TommySmith


A recent study conducted by the National Agency for Education revealed that when comparing a group of students with similar foreign backgrounds, those who attended mother language instruction performed better in school than those who chose not to attend.

You will never get rid of racism in schools so long it is supported at the top.

In schools in Mölndal West Sweden a reorganisation of comprehensive schools completely left out All foreign speaking Teachers.

This is supported by Politicians the School Management and School Unions. Foreign speaking pupils will no longer get support in their own language.

As for integration and anti-racism all foreign speaking Support Teachers are outside of the main stream school.



Parent of a English Home Language Pupil.

Tommy Smith
18:53 May 12, 2011 by calebian22

They are talking about video games versus books, not electronic format books ( I love my Kindle). Besides, even if the article is referring to general information gathering on the internet, this would not equal reading a book. Reading books, stimulates the imagination, expands vocabulary and increases higher brain activity. Most information on the internet is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Reading Facebook updates or Nickelodeon on the internet is not the same as reading The Great Brain series or Encyclopedia Brown.
08:16 May 13, 2011 by Puffin
I think there is a lot of variation - my daughter reads 4-5 books a week so we are struggling to keep up with demand - although it helps that in her school year 6 volunteer as assistants in the public library - so at least she is able to get some of her reading material from there

@Tommy Smith

You child has a legal right to Hemspråk if there are more than 5 children wanting that language - contact the kommun
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