Varsity’s survey found that 52 per cent of respondents said the materials they read most frequently were electronic or online materials, 26 per cent of which were articles shared on social media platforms.
Chong Hiu-yeung, the writer of the travel blog “I travel, I run therefore I am”, says Hong Kong’s youngsters still read, but their tastes in reading materials have changed. “With limited time but an explosive amount of information, they prefer to choose the simple, short and easy ones to read,” says Chong.
But while Chong believes online reading materials such as blogs can be inspiring, they only give the readers a brief idea of issues and events whereas printed books usually provide more detailed analyses. He urges readers to read books in order to further explore the ideas they obtain from online social media platforms.
Ah-yo, another popular blogger, says she understands society’s concerns about an apparent decline in reading among young people but she finds it meaningless to compare today with the past.
Ah-yo, who works as a flight attendant, started blogging in 2008, sharing her experiences of daily life and her views with readers. A combination of lively descriptions and interesting photos soon drew a group of teenage fans and her site recorded more than 1,000 hits a day. In 2009, Ah-yo published her first book containing excerpts from her blog, illustrated with cartoons. Ah-yo From Mars: Raid on Earth, immediately entered the bestseller lists and has been reprinted three times.
Despite becoming a best-selling author, Ah-yo does not believe printed books have an elevated status. “We need new ideas in reading. It doesn’t have to be a printed book to qualify as reading. What matters is the content. If you can get something out of it then it’s already a successful communication between the writer and readers,” she explains.
Unlike traditional printed books, online reading materials or pop literature such as blog articles and online novel series are usually written in a more casual language and style. On the one hand this can help readers absorb information more easily and quickly but on the other, it is blamed for contributing to teenagers’ deteriorating writing skills.