Internet and reading habits | By Abid Hussain

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Internet and reading habits

READING is a springboard of any literacy programme. It is one of the oldest habits of human civilization, particularly among extraordinary personalities.

It is an excellent source of conscious learning and is regarded as the art of interpreting printed and written words.

Reading helps in the accuracy of information, attitude, judgement, belief and moral. Many people believe there have been severe decline in reading habits since the invention of the Internet; however, most think that Internet has increased reading habits and not diminished them.

In the past, libraries were a great source for fact findings and information acquisition; now, reading culture is declining and people need more time to visit libraries physically.

Libraries were known as a place of creative thinking, information and research activities in the past.

The advancement of new technologies and the World Wide Web has brought drastic changes in almost all aspects of life such as industry, trading and educational sectors.

Due to these advanced technologies, people live in the digital world, which has inundated the teaching and learning process with digital tools.

Undoubtedly, the Internet is a wealth and a fast source of information. However, searching the information on the Internet diverts people’s attention from one place to another which needs clarification on what to select and what to reject.

Scholars believe that the Internet is a veritable tool for learning, teaching and research activities; however, it is a source of entertainment and gaming world for teenagers.

Surprisingly, technology is taking steady control over human lives. On one side, it is a source of fascinating learning; on the other, it damages our brains and gradually affects our eyesight.

The funky handsets in students’ hands have confused the young brains. Most students play games, chat with friends, and watch movies.

They do not have time to open a book for reading. Social media like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.

, have intoxicated our youngsters; now, more people are engaged on these tools and do not have time to read a book.

In the old times, printed materials like newspapers, books, and magazines were great sources of reading and learning, nevertheless, Ubiquitous technology like Internet has enormous impacts on our reading habits.

It is an astounding fact that the Internet has created a global and a virtual world and people from different spheres have been interlinked with this robust technology.

More activities in the physical world have been moved online, like business, research, education etc.

Similarly, it has become a great forum for online readings, however, the value of physical books and printed material can never be replaced with electronic gadgets.

Albeit, the Internet is known as an extensive encyclopaedia, a library without walls, but it cannot replace the physical libraries.

Some have the views that Internet has brought tremendous revolution in the reading habits of the current generation; still, the aches and pains obtained by the Internet are more in numbers; in my view, the Internet is a time-waster tool and causes distraction in study; it affects focus and patience, it brought health issues and obesity.

It has caused depression, loneliness and social isolation. It brought Viruses and Malware practices.

It is not a safe place for children and teenagers; it is a hub of bullying, trolls, stalkers, and crimes.

These are a few worsening damages influenced by the Internet. In short, reading from physical books is far better than reading on the Internet.

John Landgraf rightly said, “Information technology and the Internet are rapidly transforming almost every aspect of our lives – some for better, some for worse.

” In short, reading and the Internet are two equalizers of life, nonetheless, the value of physical reading can never be misconstrued.

—The writer is Deputy Director Library Services at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.