Books, Teens and Silver Screens

Teens DO love to read...


1. Books, Teens and Silver Screens

I am going to say one word, and you will have to imagine a picture to go behind it. Ready?


Now, what did that make you think of? Was it a typical high school or middle school-age person sitting on a couch reading a book? Jotting down notes for their own? Telling you, "My dream is to be an author and get published"? No?

Well then, how about this: A teen sitting at their desk or on a couch, leaning forward, their eyes reflecting the glow of their silver screens and their ears ringing with sounds of shooting, the motor of cars and the yell of evil gremlins?

Most people consider teens to be similar to the latter: the forebearers of the "Playstation Nation", the electronics-obsessed world which might be our future.

But why are teens portrayed like this? Why are we believed to have shunned books and have turned instead to the machines? Perhaps, is it because the machines are obvious, while reading and writing can be hidden more easily?

Books, of course, can be just as hard to hide as a laptop. But what if the teens who appear to be spending hour after hour on their laptops are not gaming or posting useless things on Facebook or Twitter; what if they were actually reading ebooks and writing their own stories on online writing communities?

When children or adults are on the computer, they are not thought to just be gaming. They could be doing any of a number of things. Teens are the same. Why do teens immediately default to "stereotype" when kids and adults don't? Perhaps TV has more effect on us than we know-- adults and children imagine most teens to be Facebook-hogging, makeup-coated, popularity-craving people. But that description could fit an adult or child as well. 

My point is, teens should be treated like they are responsible. Many teens enjoy reading, even if they do not seem to be doing it regularly. Then again, what if these teens DON'T enjoy reading? Maybe they've grown up in a household where they don't know any better. Maybe their schools don't encourage it. Maybe their friends tease them for reading! Popular teenage TV shows portray book-readers as "nerds". But now I pose this question: why would book readers be nerdy? There is no reason why they should!

Computers also tempt teens into a world where they can be celebrities, or where they can meet their idols through Facebook and other social networks. The internet is an over-hyped piece of media, as many teens who have tried to chase their dreams of internet fame and failed, know. The internet and computer games can offer security from the "real world", the world they have just entered, as a teen, which could be so different from the one they have known as children. The Internet contains information on how to make them "cool", how to make them ready for this world of which they know nothing about. What can a book teach them, besides a fairytale which they now know will never come true? It was entertaining, as children... but now book readers are nerdy, just as playing "pretend games" are babyish.

Books are just as good a hideaway as the internet is-- better, even. I am a teen myself, and have been a HUGE reader since even before I learned how! I am a member of two online writing communities. One I have stayed at since Nov. 2011 and the other since Jun. 2012. I get amazingly supportive comments on my writings from teens who enjoy reading them. Book vouchers for my birthday are far better than any signed picture of my favourite singer. Teens who stare at their idols lengthily are just consumed by the longing to meet them, or the tragic fact that they will never be able to. Characters in books can be visited over and over again. They can become a teen's friends, for that teen alone. These friends won't judge, point or laugh at them.

Many teens do understand this. They read lots of books--why else are young adult novels bestsellers?-- and ebooks. They join online writing communities, full of teens like themselves, and just write their own stories, which get critiqued by people of the same age with the same ambition or hobby as themselves. The huge number of writing communities and their crowds of mostly-teenage members show just how much teens love to read and write.

Writing and reading isn't always obvious as a teenage hobby. Just because computers and gaming are very, very popular and often obvious doesn't mean that most teens are interested in just that. 

Children aren't all innocent. Adults aren't all wise. Teens aren't all gamers.

As simple as that.

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