DUBAI: Social media and smartphones will lead to an increase in illiterate children within a generation, a Booker Prize winning author has warned.
Howard Jacobson said he believes these technologies were having a damaging effect on children’s language use and he admitted that Twitter had even impacted his brain so much that cannot read to the extent that he used to.
Jacobson, who wrote “The Finkler Question,” said communication via social media and mobile phones removed the nuance and irony from conversation – which he said “created the perfect environment for demagogues such as Donald Trump.
“If Trump doesn’t destroy us in the next year, in the next 20 years, social media will have destroyed us,” he said. “We will have children who can’t read, who don’t want to read.”
“I can’t read any more as much as I used to,” he added. “My concentration has been shot by this b***** screen. I can’t do it now — I want space, I want white pages, light behind the page.”
He said he use to relax reading “300 densely-packed pages” of a Henry James novel – but he said he now found he was too easily distracted.
The author said he feared that the demise of literacy played into the hands of US President Donald Trump, who Jacobson said thrived off the uneducated.
He explained that when Trump said he “loves the poorly educated,” he actually meant: “I want you to stay uneducated.”
The character limit imposed by social media, Jacobson said, made irony and context redundant.
This, he explained, benefited Trump, who relied on social media to bypass traditional news outlets preferred by the so-called “metropolitan elite.”
According to recent research the amount of American adults who read novels is at the lowest ever recorded, with just 43 percent having read one book or more in the previous 12 months.
And there has been an almost 10 percent decline in the number of children reading for fun between 2011 and 2015, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.
Trump’s impact on social media is so significant that an analyst claimed this month that if Donald Trump were to leave Twitter he would wipe $2 billion off the company’s value.