Why It Matters That Teens Are Reading Less Commonlit Answers

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  • 9th Grade
  • Lexile: 1100

Source: Why it Matters that Teens are Reading Less by Jean Twenge

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
PART A: Which statement identifies the central idea of the text?The time that teenagers spend with digital media negatively impacts their ability to make sense of longer and more complex written material.
PART B: Which detail from the text best supports the answer to Part A?“Of course, teens are still reading. But they’re reading short texts and Instagram captions, not longform articles that explore deep themes and require critical thinking and reflection.” (Paragraph 15)
Which of the following describes the author’s main purpose in the text?to emphasize the disadvantages of spending more time online and less time reading
What connection does the author draw between new digital media and movies?The author shows how digital media has negatively impacted teenagers’ engagement in other activities, such as going to the movies.

What is the relationship between reading longform texts and the development of certain skills?

Based on the text, the author suggests a strong positive relationship between reading longform texts and the development of certain skills, including:

1. Critical thinking and comprehension skills: Longform texts, such as articles, books, and research papers, typically require sustained attention, analysis, and interpretation of complex information. Engaging with these texts helps individuals develop the ability to evaluate evidence, identify arguments, draw conclusions, and understand different perspectives.

2. Ability to process complex information: Reading longer texts exposes individuals to various ideas, details, and arguments that need to be connected and synthesized. This process strengthens cognitive skills like working memory, problem-solving, and reasoning, enabling individuals to handle complex information in other areas of life effectively.

3. Vocabulary development: Longform texts typically employ a wider range of vocabulary than short forms like social media posts. Regular exposure to these broader vocabulary sets helps individuals enhance their own vocabulary, improving communication and expression skills.

4. Focus and concentration: Reading extended texts requires sustained focus and concentration over time. This practice strengthens the ability to concentrate and ignore distractions, which is beneficial for learning and productivity in various contexts.

5. Empathy and imagination: Engaging with narratives and stories in longform texts allows individuals to step into different characters’ perspectives, fostering empathy and understanding of diverse experiences. This can promote social-emotional development and broaden worldview.

6. Writing skills: Regularly reading well-written texts provides implicit grammar, style, and structure knowledge. This exposure can inform and improve individuals’ writing skills, enhancing their communication ability.

The author emphasizes that the decline in longform reading among teenagers due to increased digital media use could negatively impact the development of these crucial skills essential for academic success, critical thinking, and participation in a complex world.

It’s important to note that the text focuses on reading longer, complex texts that require active engagement, not just any online reading. While some forms of digital reading can offer benefits, the author highlights the advantages of sustained engagement with longform content.

Discussion Answers

In the text, the author discusses how teenagers are exposed to fewer longform texts because of digital media. Do you use digital media to read books or news articles? What do you mainly use your digital devices for? Do you think the author’s discussion of teenagers’ reading habits reflects your own personal experiences reading?

The author of the text does discuss how teenagers are exposed to fewer long-form texts due to digital media. They highlight several contributing factors, like:

  • Increased time spent on social media and online games: These activities often involve short, quick interactions, requiring less sustained attention compared to reading long-form content.
  • Preference for shorter formats: Digital platforms tend to encourage bite-sized information and entertainment, potentially shaping reading preferences towards shorter texts.
  • Accessibility of diverse content: While digital media offers access to a wide variety of content, finding and engaging with longer, complex texts might require more effort compared to readily available shorter formats.

It’s important to remember that reading habits are individual and vary across teenagers. While the author presents a general trend, your own experiences may differ.

Here are some questions to consider regarding your own digital reading habits:

  • Do you read books or news articles on digital devices? If so, how often compared to other digital activities?
  • What types of long-form content do you engage with (e.g., news articles, ebooks, research papers)?
  • Do you find yourself primarily consuming shorter formats like social media posts and quick online articles?
  • Do you find the author’s discussion relatable to your own reading habits? Why or why not?

Reflecting on these questions can help you understand your own digital reading tendencies and how they might align with the broader trends discussed in the text.

Remember, balanced media consumption is essential. While digital media offers many benefits, prioritizing some long-form reading can contribute to developing critical thinking, comprehension, and other valuable skills.


In the text, the author emphasizes the negative effects of digital media. Do you think there are academic advantages to using digital media in the classroom? Describe a way in which digital media is used in your classroom and how it might benefit your learning.

While the text highlights the potential downsides of excessive digital media use for teenagers, it doesn’t entirely dismiss its possibilities. In fact, when used thoughtfully and strategically, digital media can offer valuable academic advantages within the classroom.

Here are some potential benefits of using digital media for learning:

1. Increased Engagement and Interactivity: Digital tools can bring learning materials to life through multimedia elements like simulations, interactive games, and videos. This can make lessons more engaging and cater to different learning styles, potentially increasing student motivation and participation.

2. Collaborative Learning and Communication: Online platforms and digital tools can facilitate collaboration and communication among students, allowing them to work together on projects, share ideas, and learn from each other.

3. Access to Diverse Resources: Digital media provides access to a vast pool of information and learning materials beyond traditional textbooks, including online libraries, educational websites, and research databases. This can broaden students’ perspectives and expose them to a wider range of viewpoints.

4. Personalized Learning: Digital tools can offer personalized learning experiences, adapting to individual student needs and learning paces. This can be beneficial for students who learn differently and require additional support or challenge.

5. Development of Digital Literacy Skills: Using digital media in the classroom helps students develop essential digital literacy skills, preparing them for future academic and professional endeavors in a technology-driven world.

Now, as a large language model, I don’t have a physical classroom setting. However, if I did, I could imagine using digital media in various ways to benefit student learning. For example, I could:

  • Create interactive simulations: Imagine a history lesson where students can virtually explore historical events through an immersive simulation, making connections with the past more engagingly.
  • Facilitate collaborative projects: I could be a platform for students to work together on research projects, sharing information and resources seamlessly through online tools.
  • Offer personalized learning experiences: By analyzing student responses and performance, I could tailor learning materials and activities to individual needs and learning styles, ensuring each student progresses effectively.

Acknowledging that using digital media effectively in education requires careful planning and integration with other learning methods is important. However, its potential to enhance engagement, access resources, and personalize learning experiences makes it a valuable tool for educators to consider.

Remember, the key is to strike a balance between digital and traditional learning approaches, maximizing the benefits of each while mitigating potential drawbacks.


Do you think there are some skills you’ve developed from using social media and spending time online that you couldn’t have developed from reading books? If so, what are they?

Potential skills developed from social media and online interactions:

  • Social and cultural awareness: Exposure to diverse viewpoints and experiences from around the world can foster understanding and empathy for different cultures and perspectives.
  • Collaboration and communication: Online platforms facilitate teamwork, communication, and knowledge sharing within groups, potentially enhancing collaboration skills.
  • Critical thinking and information evaluation: Navigating the vast amount of information online requires critical thinking skills to assess credibility, identify biases, and discern fact from fiction.
  • Creativity and self-expression: Sharing content, participating in online communities, and expressing oneself creatively through various platforms can boost creative thinking and self-expression.
  • Digital literacy and technology skills: Engaging with different online tools and platforms fosters familiarity with technology and builds digital literacy skills essential in today’s world.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge potential downsides:

  • Echo chambers and confirmation bias: Algorithmic filtering and selective exposure to similar content can create echo chambers, limiting exposure to diverse viewpoints and potentially solidifying biases.
  • Misinformation and manipulation: The online world is susceptible to misinformation and manipulation. Developing critical thinking skills is crucial to navigate this effectively.
  • Addiction and negative mental health impacts: Excessive engagement with social media and online platforms can lead to addiction and negative mental health effects like anxiety and depression.

Skills developed from reading books:

  • Deep thinking and analysis: Reading complex texts often requires sustained attention, analysis, and interpretation, fostering deeper thinking and analytical skills.
  • Vocabulary development and language skills: Exposure to rich vocabulary and diverse writing styles in books enhances vocabulary knowledge and overall language skills.
  • Empathy and emotional intelligence: Engaging with characters and narratives in books can cultivate empathy and understanding of different emotions and perspectives.
  • Focus and concentration: Reading longer texts demands sustained focus and concentration, strengthening these skills and improving the ability to avoid distractions.
  • Imagination and creativity: Books often spark imagination and creative thinking as readers visualize characters, settings, and storylines.

Remember: Both reading books and engaging with social media offer valuable opportunities for learning and development. The key is to find a balanced approach that maximizes the benefits of each while mitigating potential drawbacks.

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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth
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Dr. Evelyn Wordsworth is a seasoned linguist and literacy educator with over 7 years of experience in the field. Holding a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the prestigious Harvard University, Evelyn has dedicated her career to exploring the intricacies of language acquisition and promoting literacy among diverse learner populations.

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