The Impact of Books on Young Adults
Since the 2000s, more and more teenagers are spending time using digital media, whether it’s texting, social media, watching YouTube, etc. Compared to before the rise of digital media, the percentage of teenagers who have read books for pleasure has declined immensely. Media has become dominant, and according to the American Psychological Association (APA), a third of teenagers in the United States haven’t read a book for pleasure in over a year. Besides giving them a chance to step away from a phone or laptop, books allow young adults to improve empathy, giving them a chance to connect with the book, showing them that they are not alone in the crazy world we live in. Books give teenagers a sense of comfort and help them cope with the many changes they face during this crucial age of development.
Teenage years are filled with craziness, confusion, happiness, friendship, love, anger, sadness, adventure, curiosity, and most of all, change. Emotions run wild through these years, as it’s a time for young adults to find themselves and their passions. Books can tackle serious topics that people may relate to, or even if they don’t, they all offer advice that show teens they are not alone. It allows one to temporarily escape their own world and become swept up in the experiences of the character. While reading, one may cease to think of their own problems and connect with the words on the pages. These characters show how to deal with certain emotions that young adults may be feeling, which creates a sense of connectedness for a book, character, or situation. As C.S. Lewis says, “We read to know we are not alone.”
Books help people cope with struggles they are facing in reality. A study in 2009 found that “30 minutes of reading lowered blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of psychological distress.” Not only can reading help reduce stress, but it can generate a sense of comfort. This hominess is created through a powerful story, detailed characters, and a lingering message. Books leave an impact on teens, whether it’s advice for the future, a relatable character, or just giving them a place to relax and enjoy the moment.
In addition, books increase one’s ability to empathize. After exploring someone else’s life and experiences, teenagers gain skills that heighten their appreciation for relationships in their life and increase their ability to understand the feelings of others. Navigating relationships amid teenage years are tough, as people are figuring out who they are, while also dealing with the stressors of everyday life. As they read other young adults on the page, they not only obtain knowledge but also gain a greater “life literacy.”
I, for one, am an avid reader and have found that books have influenced me immensely. Being a teenager is a crazy time–especially as we all are prepping for the SATs, researching colleges, while still figuring out where we belong in the world. Not only do I love that books give me a way to relax and get away from my homework, but I also love how books open my eyes to various situations and relationships that give me comfort when I am feeling down and even make me feel a little less alone. When I connect with a certain character or experience happening in a book, it makes me love the book even more (and put it on my ‘Great Books Read’ list). I cannot describe in words how much reading gives me, for I am never alone when I have a book in my hands. My happy place is inside a book, and I wish I could be there all the time.
We are all human. We all have everyday struggles. We all know that life is both difficult and magnificent at the same time. Books are there for us, helping us cope, giving us comfort, and showing us we are not alone.
“You’re never alone when you’re reading a book” — Susan Wiggs