Each day we are bombarded by a veritable blizzard of pictures, ideas, videos and commercials, all noisily barging their way into our life and clamouring for our attention. But, as a kid born in the 1990s, I was around before the concept of being electronically occupied at all times.
When I was a child, my mom instilled in me a deep love of reading. I used to beg her to read stories to me, and once she adamantly refused to read to me anymore, I learned how to read by myself and started voraciously devouring every piece of literature I could get my hands on.
For me, reading became an enjoyable pastime, my hobby, a way for me to relax, something for me to do to help the interminable time pass quicker while waiting for my mom to finish shopping.
But when I see the kids today, they're lost in their worlds of mad, feathered, winged animals with mild homicidal tendencies caused by swinophobia (fear of pigs).
I can't remember the last time I saw a kid walking around with a book, but it was just a couple of days ago I saw a kid with her own iPad. In an era where literacy is the single most important skill we can have, our younger generation seems to be losing touch with the joy of reading a book.
Now, before this becomes too much of an "In my day," article, let me point out that I'm most definitely not against the advent of technology. I'm a technology user and lover, and I appreciate how the breakthroughs have helped ease our workloads immensely. I believe that there is a lot to be said for how technology helps children learn, grow and develop.
It's a brilliant tool, if used correctly. But, at the same time, there is something to be said for the more traditional approach of learning through reading.
Compared to many other countries, Canada has an excellent literacy rate. But excellent isn't good enough. Only perfect is. For us to claim that we are one of the most well-developed countries in the world, yet have a select portion of our population shut out of society, is astonishing and embarrassing.
For an illiterate person, so many things remain out of reach. Medication, signs, even job applications all become daunting obstacles and traps for some-one who is unable to read. It makes prospering and surviving in today's culture extremely difficult.
No matter how many ways we try to avoid or diminish reading, no matter how much technology helps us in our day-to-day lives, literacy will always play an enormous role.
So for kids to be spending less and less time reading during their formative years, and more and more hours in front of screens, should be troubling for all parents and concerned parties.
Really though, this problem doesn't lie just with the kids. I can see it in my generation too. Reading has become something hated, something tortuous, something to be endured, not enjoyed.
For most of my peers, reading occurs only in the classroom, when forced to analyze character and plot development, instead of treating a book as a dessert to be enjoyed, not overanalyzed.
It is up to us, as parents, siblings and teachers, to set a better example. We must be the role models and the leaders; we must take the initiative.
Perhaps the solution is to develop better reading habits. I'm a big believer in allotting a certain amount of time to read each day. Maybe it's 15 minutes one day, maybe an hour on other days, but take some time out of your life to read.
Read something you want to read, not something you have to read. Maybe instead of spending 30 minutes on Facebook, use half of that time and just read. Read the newspaper, read a magazine, read a book. Just read something.
And maybe that way, the next time you're on your little techno-gadget, instead of whipping out Angry Birds, perhaps you'll choose to open up an e-book.
Andrew Chang is a Grade 12 student at Gleneagle Secondary.