By: Marylyn B. Francisco
Reading is an important skill. Reading takes us to places. Reading sends us back in time.
All these are true, but all are oversimplifications of what the habit of reading is actually capable of. Maybe after knowing the gravity of the crisis of this generation and how reading can potentially revolutionize this age, it would be more than just a skill needed to be learned.
The world is in the age of technological advancement. In these times, the rate of development is at its peak. As time goes by, it becomes available to a larger audience, and the population that its functionality reaches goes younger and younger. Without apparent setbacks or strict user prohibitions, it becomes harder and harder to detach from it the moment someone gets hooked up.
In 2021, adolescents ranging from 10 to 14 years old were found to spend around 7.7 hours in front of their gadgets daily, according to a study released by JAMA Pediatrics on November 1 that same year. It was a massive jump as the numbers doubled compared to the 3.8 hours of screen time pre-pandemic (Kingsu-Cheng, 2021). Excluding the time spent on virtual schooling, almost one-third of the day was spent talking and surfing on social media and online gaming. The 5,412 respondents of the said study claimed to have resorted to using technology to escape negative emotions from stressors during the lockdown. However, other studies show worse repercussions in this coping mechanism as young people suffer extreme stress upon withdrawal from gadgets (Addiction Center, n.d). In short, addiction to the usage of technology occurs.
According to Dr. Paul Simone, Vice-President and Director of Behavioral Health at Lee Health Organization, there are already enough cases and still-growing evidence that there’s a possibility of developing an addiction to social media. Such addiction was claimed not to be any different from that of alcohol and drugs and could be associated with substance-use disorder (Lee Health, n.d). From a scientific perspective, this was caused by the constant secretion of dopamine, also known as the happy hormone that makes an individual feel momentary elation. This was called the “dopamine loop”. When using social media, the brain’s reward system is triggered and releases this neurotransmitter, tricking the human senses into thinking that social media is a source of happiness. However, consequences like deteriorating cognitive ability, memory loss, mood swings, and depression are associated with social media addiction.
In other terms, a child’s brain, which was supposed to be stimulated through creation by imagination, becomes used to absorbing like that of a mindless creature. Social media addiction is so severe that the same is true for adults and is as hard to escape. To break the stronghold, the dependence on social media as recreation should be replaced by reading meaningful books that would make the mind ponder on questions and immerse in endless possibilities. Therefore, instead of taking in, the mind constructs; instead of just watching, the children participate.
What everybody knows about reading cannot hold a candle to what it is.
Reading is a liberator, a forgotten friend that existed long before the oppressors were created.