Yesterday I watched a video on YouTube of a child attempting to manipulate a magazine as if it were an iPad.
Eh? Bear with me.
As expected, the futile motions and the child’s baffled reactions are pretty funny, but it also made me ponder once again how touchscreen devices and future developments in technology will influence children’s perception of and attitude towards books, but more importantly, the act of reading itself.
Whilst digital content is currently co-existing alongside traditional printed media, it’s quite conceivable that in a decades time when it has the potential to overshadow it’s paper kin (rather than outright replace it), a child might live throughout their early years – before they have the opportunity to venture into the world alone and discover alternatives – rarely, if ever, reading “old” books and magazines.
If children only know books and applications that can employ videos, music, games and reader interactivity in a wide variety of ways, will paper and ink still be fulfilling? Will classic literature need to be remade in new digital dimensions to be valid for the next generation? There will certainly be very interesting and immersive techniques that will enable readers to connect with stories in unique ways, but I fear that older works might be neglected.
However, there’s also the possibility they will turn to printed books, and the contemplative, often passive manner of reading they foster, as an antidote to a constantly active, sometimes overloaded medium. It seems context plays a large part here – how would a reader focus on and engage with a multitude of different medias whilst braving a packed rush hour train journey, with all the physical restraints and stressful stimuli that entails?
I apologise in advance for any work put off due to random video YouTube tangents as a result of this post.