Q:

I am really puzzled about what counts as reading nowadays. My children feel that they are reading when they read text messages or comments on social-networking sites. Are they correct? And how can we get children to read more? -- Electronic Reading

A:

Reading on electronic devices is reading. Your children are right about this. However, a survey by Scholastic and the Harrison Group points out one big downside to this view. They found that from age 6 to 17, the time children spend reading books for fun declines, while the time they spend going online for fun and using a cellphone to text or talk increases. Incidentally, most parents do not consider reading on social-networking sites reading.

The good news about technology is that the survey found it could be a positive motivator to get kids reading. Fifty-seven percent of the children in the survey said they were interested in reading an e-book, and a third of the children said they would read more books for fun if they had access to e-books on an electronic device.

Unfortunately, only 6 percent of parents who were surveyed owned an electronic device used for reading digital publications, but 16 percent planned to purchase one in the next year. And parents are not hesitant to share those devices with their children -- approximately 8 in 10 parents said they do or will allow/encourage their child to use their e-reading devices.

While parents understandably have concerns about the amount of time their kids are spending on electronic or digital devices, e-books do offer a way to get more kids to read more. The survey also found that the more time struggling readers spend reading e-books for fun, the more proficient readers they become.