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Do we stop reading texts online?

Updated on June 26, 2015

Sometimes, I really wonder that with such a giant amount of data available online, would anyone have time to read? As everyone working the advertising agency would know, these days’ buzz words is content marketing, in which the word “content” mostly refers to ideas that are displayed under visual and audio rather than texts. That portrays one big fact of the online world: people rarely read long texted content.

"Please don't force me to use my brain"
"Please don't force me to use my brain"

There are some reasons why people do not prefer reading online. Firstly, the digital world is distracting. Facebook notification with that “1” message popping up, the ads aside the article you are reading try to grasp your attention, the article you are reading trying to engage you more by offering you free downloads, and suddenly the music on one Youtube tab you left stops playing. There are too many distractors on the Internet, which make reading online very difficult to focus.

Secondly, as always, “too much makes too little”. The Internet world provides too much information that overloads anyone’s brain. Unless those people who have clear objective of reading, most feel unnecessary to process that enormous pile of information.

And last but not least, rich media turns us into lazy creatures. Instead of reading a know-how book, many people now would turn to searching for Youtube know-how videos instead. With rich media, there doesn’t need to be active thinking and usage of brain power. We just need to sit back and enjoy the information being fed to us. Ask yourself how long do you usually spend time reading a Facebook post? Very quickly. Thus, for long texted content, we often skip and look for any visual support.

Let's find some reading inspiration back from the video below. Maybe we should clarify book is for reading, and online is not.

Percent of Article content viewed
Percent of Article content viewed

Now, with some back-up evidence. The graph above shows it all. It points out a very interesting fact that a lot of visitors do not view the whole article, but only the Headings. If the heading is attractive enough, then they will go on and scan the whole article. Interestingly, most visitors who go on reading the content only finishes 50% of it. Because the fact is people are not very patient online reading texts. They aim for something for passive on the Internet, including videos and photots that can transmit the information to their head much easier.

Percent of Article content viewed
Percent of Article content viewed

The above graph confirms the previous one. The reason people read 0% of the article is because they do not scroll. The data is quite harsh to any content builders. You can write a break-through text, but without other media supporting, it is very hard to attract people's attention. And it's pointed in the above graph: most of us only read about 60% of the text content. In other words, our brain on the online era has evolved to adapt with proof-reading, scanning to pick up information rather than focusing on details.

This article points out a drastic change in the way we read. Due to this Internet reading habit, the younger generation's interest in traditional hard copy books show a declination. To boost up some reading motivation, the video from TED below is very useful. Enjoy and thank you for reading this!

Reading is very important!

Do you see yourself read texts less and less online over time?

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