Academics are worried that the surge in popularity of ebook readers could lead to a catastrophic loss of children’s basic Google search skills. According to a report published today, a whole generation is becoming seduced by the convenience and reliability of ‘books’ available on their Kindles and iPads, meaning that many have only the vaguest understanding of the learning methods used by their parents.
‘It’s a time bomb waiting to happen,’ claimed report author Brian Renfrew of Cambridge University. ‘Once these kids get introduced to books, it’s like an addiction. They get gripped by Pipe’s history of the Russian Revolution or Civil War, Interregnum and Restoration in Gloucestershire, 1640-1672, and all best practice of simply Googling the important dates goes straight out the window.’
‘I’ve seen these youths slumped in corners of the library, silent but for the relentless flick of the turning pages. It’s sad, but their concentration spans are getting longer and longer. Some of them can’t even be bothered to play FIFA Soccer on the PlayStation when they get home – you can almost see their thumb muscles wasting away.’
Representatives of student groups have strongly defended the new-fangled ‘book-learning’, pointing out the benefits of having a set of definitive references in front of you and in one place, without the tedium of wading through sponsored adverts and porn. But this view was condemned as ‘short-sighted in the extreme’ by Basil Snoddy, careers advisor at the University of Hull.
‘It’s all very well running to books every time you need an answer, but those Google skills won’t come by themselves,’ he explained. ‘What happens when they get a career as a journalist for TV Quick, say? It’ll do them no good leafing through some musty old reference book when a colleague needs to know now who played Mr Cunningham in Happy Days. They just won’t have the experience to pop open Google and see that the answer is of course ‘Bruce Forsyth’.
rickwestwell (hat-tip to allmyownstunts)