Several months ago, I wrote an article explaining why people (specifically Christians) should dump Facebook. One reason is that Facebook is a very skilled waster of people’s time, as are all other social media sites. I’ve also written an article about many Americans’ inability to separate opinions from facts. Today, I write about a possible result of Americans being addicted to the great time waster called social media and a possible cause of “American’s inability to separate opinions from facts.” You see, the latest American Time Use Survey has been released and I have yet to cease sadly saying “Wow!” whenever I think about what the survey reveals about Americans’ reading habits.
Under the auspices of the United States Department of Labor, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the results of the survey every year. The report contains boring yet useful information like:
Among workers age 25 and over, those with an advanced degree were more likely to work at home than were persons with lower levels of educational attainment–46 percent of those with an advanced degree performed some work at home on days worked, compared with 12 percent of those with a high school diploma. Workers with an advanced degree also were more likely to work on an average day than were those with a high school diploma–73 percent, compared with 68 percent.
The American Time Survey doesn’t just focus on work-related activities, though. The survey also reveals how Americans spend their leisure hours, which is a separate category from household activities. For example, under household activities, “On an average day, 19 percent of men did housework–such as cleaning or laundry–compared with 49 percent of women. Forty-six percent of men did food preparation or cleanup, compared with 69 percent of women. Men were slightly more likely to engage in lawn and garden care than were women–11 percent, compared with 8 percent.”
However, leisure activities are a little more democratic, if you will. “On an average day, nearly everyone age 15 and over (96 percent) engaged in some sort of leisure activity, such as watching TV, socializing, or exercising. Men spent 33 minutes per day more in these activities than did women (5.5 hours, compared with 5.0 hours).”
As expected, watching TV takes up the most of Americans’ time spent in leisure with the average American spending just under three hours a day watching TV. The leisure activity engaged in the least appears to be reading. “Time spent reading for personal interest varied greatly by age. Individuals age 75 and over averaged 51 minutes of reading per day whereas individuals ages 15 to 44 read for an average of 10 minutes or less per day.”
According to table 11A, men spend less time a day reading than do women. Not by much, mind you. Taking into account that the much higher time spent reading by seniors skews the overall average, men spend on average fewer than a quarter of an hour a day reading while women spend on average around a third of an hour a day reading. (If you go to table 11A you should note that the numbers are percentages of an hour and not minutes.)
The average adult reads around 300 words per minute. That means that Americans between the ages of 15-44 read on average 3,000 words or less a day. It truly boggles my mind how little my fellow Americans read. If I wasn’t cynical about the future of this country before the release of the American Time Survey, I am now. The dismally low amount of time spent reading by Americans is shameful!