Levels of writing enjoyment among children reach record low, survey suggests

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Only around a third (34.5%) of children and young people said they find pleasure from writing, compared to two in five (39.8%) last year, according to a National Literacy Trust (NLT) report.

The proportion of young people who enjoy writing has fallen to a record low, a charity survey suggests.

Only around a third (34.5%) of children and young people said they find pleasure from writing, compared to two in five (39.8%) last year, according to a National Literacy Trust (NLT) report.

This is the lowest level of writing enjoyment recorded by the charity since the question was first asked in 2010.

The research, based on a survey of more than 40,000 children aged eight to 18 in 2021, also found only one in seven (15.2%) children and young people said they write something in their spare time every day.

This is down 6.3 percentage points from 2020 when more than one in five (21.5%) children and young people said they wrote daily. It also represents the lowest daily writing rate in the last 11 years.


But the NLT report found nearly two in five (38.3%) young people agreed that writing makes them feel better, with some choosing to write to cope with anxiety or to stay in contact with people.

The survey suggests that more girls than boys enjoy writing in their free time, with two in five girls saying this compared with one in four boys.

Writing enjoyment also declines with age, with nearly twice as many five to eight-year-olds saying that they enjoy writing compared with those aged 16 and over.

The report concludes:

“The pandemic in 2020, its associated lockdowns and school closures have not only interrupted children and young people’s schooling but also appeared to have had a negative impact on their writing.

“While we cannot say with certainty that the findings outlined in this report are the direct result of the pandemic and related disruption, the percentage of children and young people enjoying writing is the lowest we have seen in over a decade.”


However, the research also showed a rise in certain formats being written digitally, with more young people writing song lyrics, diary entries, reviews, stories and poems on screen compared to 2020.

The most popular writing that children and young people do in their free time is text/direct messages (92.4%) followed by in-game communications (84.2%), the report says.

Jonathan Douglas, chief executive of the NLT, said: “The last year has been extraordinarily turbulent and the record lows in writing and writing enjoyment unfortunately come as little surprise.

“I’m cheered to see many children, particularly girls, are still finding pleasure in writing and I hope next year’s data shows a marked uptick across children and young people from all backgrounds.

“We know that creative writing has the wonderful ability to boost children and young people’s wellbeing and help them feel connected to the world.

“It presents a huge opportunity for teachers, educators and parents to encourage writing in all its forms, from putting pen to paper to in-app messaging. It all has a proven benefit to the way a child feels.

“After such a difficult sixteen months, encouraging positive behaviours around writing is more important than ever.”

A total of 42,502 children aged eight to 18 in the UK were surveyed between January and mid-March.

Do you think children need to be encouraged to write more? Leave a comment down below!

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