Sunday, 29 January, 2023

Let’s Turn Internet Addiction into Reading Habit

Dr Md Mahmudul Hassan

Let’s Turn Internet Addiction into Reading Habit

About a decade and a half ago, every teacher in schools and colleges used to ask the students to read books in the classroom compulsorily to create a reading habit. It is not so noticeable today, rather the habit of reading books is losing day by day due to internet addiction.

Whatever we talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) or SDG-2030's teaching-learning outcomes, to effectively achieve them, students have to develop the habit of reading books. Excessive use of digital technology reduces students' desire to read.  internet addiction is making students more anxious about exams. Not only that, the feeling of loneliness among students is also increasing at an alarming rate. Such information has emerged in a research report published in the Computer Assisted Learning Journal.  Phil Reed, a researcher at Swansea University in the UK, said that among students who are addicted to the internet, they are at a greater risk of losing interest in studies. Academic performance of internet addicted students is also very poor. Considering the academic results, it can be seen that internet addicts are lagging behind in terms of educational qualifications. Therefore, if we can metamorphose the internet addiction into reading habit, our students can develop their studies and could save themselves from unwanted harms.

Recently, a research report from McMaster University in Canada said that those who use the internet for more time during the day, have increased mental problems. Researchers used two scales to understand the relationship between college students' internet use and psychological problems. The first is the internet Addiction Test (IAT). This scale has been in use since 1998. The second is the new scale, which was developed to understand internet usage patterns. Michael van Ameringen, the lead researcher of the study, said that the internet has changed a lot in the last two decades. More people are working online, streaming media and spending time on social media than ever before. Their advice is to be aware of the negative aspects of the internet now.

285 health related course students of different universities participated in the study.  Their use of digital technology, study skills, interest in studies, anxiety and loneliness among other things were assessed in the preparation of the research report. Finally, it was seen that excessive internet addiction is making students averse to studies. It reduces both students' interest and ability to study.  Research results show that internet addicts are unable to complete their studies. Although students' fear of exams is not supposed to work, many students are very afraid of exams due to internet addiction and they are quite anxious about it.  Due to which loneliness is increasing among students, which makes studies more difficult.

Among the students who participated in the study, 25 percent of the students used to use the internet for more than 4 hours.  The rest were used to using the internet for 1 to 3 hours.  40 percent of students surveyed said they used various social media sites.  In addition, 30 percent said that they used the internet to get information on various topics.

Researchers have blamed students' internet addiction for such deterioration in learning worldwide.  They claim that internet addiction is the main reason for students' reluctance to study.  This results in increased loneliness, which depresses the students.  It has a negative impact on overall education. 

Thus, the way our children are addicted day by day, they should be made interested in reading books through the use of the internet.  Experts are working on many ways for this.  Recently, an organization called Jago Foundation, in collaboration with The Asia Foundation, has taken up a project promoting safe internet usage among children and giving students a clear idea about digital and blended learning with their parents.  It created direct access to 2500 students and 2500 parents in a virtual learning application that was supported as an important ICT tool for the learning process.  The project covers the districts of Rajshahi, Khulna, Chittagong, Comilla and Barisal.  A total of 250 youth volunteers from these 5 different districts worked directly to implement the program in 25 schools.  Project activities created a safe online environment and improved students' grade-based reading skills through a storytelling approach.

They uploaded an app called Let's Read on their smart or Android phones and familiarized all the students and parents with the necessary guidelines and information about the practical use of the app and also gave them an idea about the sensitivity of its use.  Finally, follow-up every four weekends showed an increase in awareness among students and parents about the importance of repeated reading and storytelling, which was largely the result of the learning app Let's Read.

At the end of the study, the data analysis revealed that since the students started using the 'Let's Read' app, their reading skills have improved significantly and their addiction to the internet has decreased. Thus, children need apps with characters, themes and settings that reflect their lives and allow them to explore the world.  To create curious and literate readers for a prosperous Bangladesh, children must have access to quality e-book apps.  Apps should be designed to educate our children about safe internet usage and productive screen time through which they can find a wide variety of e-books filled with stories, colorful pictures, interesting characters and themes relevant to their lives.

The invention of such apps can be traced back to the developed world. For example; : This is an award-winning digital library for children up to 12 years of age, with over 35,000 book titles, audio books and literature learning videos. : This online library for kids under 12 includes fiction and non-fiction stories, graphic novels, wordless books, historical fiction, biographies, how-to books, rhymes and more. : This is the first app to bring Augmented Reality to life, a fun and easy way to read on any device. These picture stories engage kids audio-visually and highlight each new word on the screen. https://play/ : This app introduces 'Sight Words', which are the most used words in school and children's books. There are also many apps like Starfall, Reader, ReadingRaven, Reading IG, Reading Eye, etc. through which children can turn internet addiction into reading habit.

Finally, since there is no chance of diverting students from the universe of the internet, we have to work towards making them devote themselves to reading books through the internet instead of getting addicted to it.  Right now we have to teach our children the proper use of the internet and get them used to reading more books through various educational apps as mentioned above in detail. So, let’s metamorphose the internet addiction into the reading habit.


The writer is the Principal, Daffodil International School, Dhaka and

President, Bangladesh Smart Education Network (BdSEN)