Living in a Notification Nation: the distractions that prevent us from picking up a book

23 April 2019: Our new survey to mark World Book Night, our annual celebration of books and reading, has revealed that smartphone habits are preventing us from reading books. 66% saying that they would read more if they spent less time scrolling. 55% of all adults and 72% of young people admit they lack sufficient self-control because they can’t help but continue to check their smartphone when they could be reading, showing we exist in a Notification Nation.

With the number of pressures and distractions we face, it’s no surprise that we don’t have the energy to read. 31% of respondents said constant notifications on their phone stop them reading, while the same number are distracted by boxset bingeing. Other reasons cited include home pressures such as looking after children or housework.

Debbie Hicks, Creative Director at The Reading Agency, said:

“Smartphones can help us connect with others and learn more about the world around us. But this survey shows that many of us struggle to switch off and that this can take a toll on our wellbeing. Reading is the perfect way to disconnect. This doesn’t mean abandoning your smartphone – there are lots of brilliant audiobooks and ebooks that can help you escape into another world.”

With one in four admitting they spend at least one day a week scrolling through social media apps and the internet, it’s not surprising to learn that some respondents admit to feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and ‘frustrated’. However, the survey shows social media has the power to make people feel connected, with 34% citing that as a key feeling they experience post-scrolling.

Previous studies have shown that people who read regularly report fewer feelings of stress than non-readers, and experience stronger feelings of relaxation than from watching television or engaging with technology-intensive activities.

A Chapter A Day

This World Book Night, we are launching A Chapter A Day, a challenge which encourages the nation to make time to read a few pages of a book every day, building up to one, or a few chapters. We hope that the challenge will help people across the UK get back into the reading habit.

Debbie Hicks continued:

“A Chapter A Day aims to help people either get into reading, or get back into reading and it’s about finding ways to switch off from the distractions of daily life – from smartphone notifications to the TV – when you want to read.”

Get involved

Find out how to take part in A Chapter A Day and access reading tips here

Share what you’re up on Twitter using #WorldBookNight

See the 23 books donated by publishers for this year’s World Book Night

The Reading Agency

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