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The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Why Reading Books Is Ultimately Better Than Endlessly Scrolling

A variety of popular books. Books became more popular with the BookTok trend on TikTok during the pandemic. (Graphic by Carolina Fournier Miranda)

Some people know the feeling when you fall in love with a book you never thought you would have. There is also the feeling you get when you realize you spent nine hours scrolling on TikTok.

Books can be fulfilling, enjoyable, emotional, and impactful, which is why reading books is more valuable for teenagers as they develop through their lives. Reading helps one gain perspective and character.

Reading is often given a reputation for being boring or useless by teenagers. The American Psychological Association has reported that less than 20 percent of U.S. teens say that they read daily for fun, while more than 80 percent say that they use social media daily instead for fun. They tend to think books are only about uninteresting topics such as history and philosophy. So, in order to amuse themselves, they turn to social media: the wondrous world of Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram and more.

Nevertheless, even though the feeling of scrolling endlessly may feel good in the moment, it can mess up mental health and development in the long run, according to the National Institutes of Health. Social media is known as a sort of escape, a way to distract yourself. Each small piece of information comes in small dopamine hits, keeping you hooked. But, social media has been proven to lead to depression and anxiety in teens. Studies by The Child Mind Institute state that teenage users who spend a lot of time on different social media platforms are shown to have 13-66 percent higher rates of reported depression and anxiety.

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Most teenagers would agree that social media is carefree and takes their minds off things, but they might not be aware that books can do the same thing.

Reading books is exciting and entertaining, and it’s much better than feeding your brain with useless or harmful infor-
mation from social media, like false news, triggering content, random trends, and memes. Although social media may be suitable for things like business and local updates, it is ultimately better to get that information elsewhere. Teenagers today need to open their minds to creativity and imagination in ways that benefit them in the long run. Luckily, BookTok, the savior, created that window of opportunity for reading for the younger generation during the global pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, reading started its renaissance. Since everyone was so bored during the pandemic, the phenomenon of BookTok, a hashtag created on TikTok, started when people became more interested in reading. The trend showcases different books and authors with people reviewing them and giving them the spotlight.

When most people had spare time during the pandemic, they took this as an opportunity to read what they wanted, which not only brought them happiness, but also gave them time to discover genres that interested them. A survey taken by Good e-Reader for people who use TikTok reported that 48 percent of the users in the U.S. were reading significantly more because of BookTok.

Although BookTok was a hit and got teenagers more interested in reading, according to Good e-Reader, people have been reverting to their old tendencies. Teenagers turned back to social media, but this time, it was also to find books to read. During the pandemic, reading helped people fulfill their entertainment needs, which, ironically, was a result of social media’s doing. Miraculously, social media worked hand-in-hand with BookTok to create a gratifying platform that encouraged reading.

Reading is a meditative, magical experience that brings many people joy. Its capability of transporting you and making you feel different feelings is something social media cannot recreate. But, social media helped bring back the hobby of reading books into the spotlight for younger generations.

The amusement of a story is one of the many joys of reading that a small screen cannot replace. And, who knows? Maybe the next time you catch yourself reaching for the phone, you’ll pick up a book instead.

By Carolina Fournier Miranda 

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