For the first time children are reading more on computers and electronic devices, such as e-books, than they are reading printed books, a new study done by the National Literacy Trust affirms.

According to the research, this behaviour is damaging children’s reading levels, because those who read only with these electronic products are much less likely to be strong readers than those who read daily in print.

“We are calling for a healthier reading balance using both books and technological devices,” says the report.

After surveying 34,910 young people aged 8 to 16, researchers concluded that children who read only on-screen are less likely to have a favourite book (59% vs 77%). In addition, they enjoy reading less that the ones who use printed publications (12% vs 51%).

Due to the big number of publishers and retailers that are creating online content for kids, 39% of the children are used to read daily with on-screen compared to 28% who read printed materials every day.

“While we welcome the positive impact which technology has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it’s crucial that reading in print is not cast aside,” explained National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas.

But if children have access to these electronic devices, it is because parents make it possible. The study reveals that nearly all children have computers at home, and that 4 out of 10 own a tablet or a smartphone. However, just 3 in 10 children have a desk of their own.

These surveys examined the influence of new technologies on children’s reading abilities and their enjoyment of reading. The result is that kids who read daily just on-screen  are nearly twice less likely to be above average readers than those who read daily in print or with both platforms.

“Good reading skills and reading for pleasure are closely linked to children’s success at school and beyond. We need to encourage children to become avid readers, whatever format they choose,” Douglas stated.