London: Increased usage of computers is badly affecting children`s reading habits, a new study has claimed.
Researchers at the Gothenburg University in Sweden found that the reading ability of nine and ten-year-olds has slumped in countries where households have at least one computer, the Daily Mail reported.
For their study, the researchers compared the reading skills of pupils aged nine and ten in Sweden, the US, Italy and Hungary.
They found that since 1991, average reading ability had fallen in the US and Sweden, but had increased in Italy and Hungary, where people are less likely to have computers at home.
Children in the US and Sweden also took out fewer books from the library and spent less of their leisure time reading.
The researchers found that boys` ability had decreased slightly more than girls, possibly because they tended to spend more time on video games.
Professor Monica Rosen, who led the research, said: "Reading ability falls as leisure use of computers increases.
"It is important that we do not jump to the conclusion that the complete explanation for poorer reading is deficiencies in education.
"On the contrary, the way in which computers undermine reading shows very clearly that leisure time is at least as important when it comes to developing high-quality reading skills."