5 Reasons to Put Down Your Phone (and Pick Up a Book!)

12 May 2023

Did you know that on average, the UK adult spends 4.8 hours on their phone each day?1 Phones used to just be for communication, but now they also have our cameras, emails, games and so much more – even books! Many of us say that we’d like to spend less time on our phones, and in 2019 our research found that 66% of people would read more if they spent less time scrolling.2

We’re looking through social media of people we don’t know, watching countless videos, and suddenly a long time has passed without us even noticing. Here at The Reading Agency, we want more people to experience the benefits of reading for pleasure, and we’re here to help with our top 5 reasons to put down your phone and pick up a book:

1. Social connection

Social media, it’s social isn’t it? It’s right there in the name! Reading can also support our connections with other people. We often think that reading is something that we do alone, but it can actually make us feel closer to others. About 5% of adults report feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’3, but 19% of readers say that reading stop them from feeling lonely.4

Reading can also give us something to talk to other people about. 71% of reading group members say that they enjoy reading more when they discuss a book as part of a reading and taking part in reading groups is linked to relaxation, calmness, better quality of life and confidence.5 "Find out more about how reading groups can connect people.2:https://readinggroups.org/news/new-people-new-books-new-perspectives

Next time you’re on the phone or texting a friend or family member, why not tell them about what you’re reading? You never know, it might inspire them to read it too!

2. Relaxation

One of the main benefits of reading is how relaxing it can be, and did you know that it’s been proven to be more relaxing for you than watching TV?6 We’re seeing a huge rise in the amount of video content on our phones, and while they’re very entertaining, they’re aren’t as calming as winding down with a good book.

3. Empathy

Our phones and social media can give us a snapshot into other people’s lives, but do we really know what’s going on? People often show the positive sides of their lives and not the negatives, and it can be difficult to truly understand others.

But in a book you can find people like you, with similar ups and downs in life. Or, you might read about people completely different to yourself, but get an insight into their thoughts and experiences. You’ll take this empathy back into the real world, and realise that how you interact with other people is changing for the better.

4. Knowledge

Books are packed full of knowledge for you to learn. Of course, you can look things up on the Internet but this might only scratch the surface of a topic. Interested in a certain celebrity? Read a biography on them, or their own memoir to get a more personal account. Or perhaps a certain period of history interests you? There’s probably a book about it, and you’ll have all the information you need in one place. Reading fiction can also introduce you to new people and places; you can travel the world (or other worlds, or space!) without even leaving your home. There’s so much out there in books just waiting to be discovered.

5. Hang on, can’t I just read on my phone?

Yes, you can! There are lots of ways that you can use your phone to help your reading:
a) Download e-books, audiobooks, magazines and newspapers from your local library, or from Apple Books or Kindle to read without carrying a book around with you
b) Listen to bookish podcasts to get recommendations and hear from authors
c) Follow authors and publishers on social media and join the book-loving online community to share thoughts and suggestions
d) If you’re in a book club, set up a Whatsapp group to keep in touch between meetings and discuss your current read
e) Sign up to newsletters to hear the latest book-related news and opportunities to get involved in. Your library or local bookshop might have one, or sign up to ours to hear about what you can get involved in at The Reading Agency

You don’t have to delete your social media accounts and remove games from your phone. But next time you think ‘just five more minutes’, how about spending that time reading instead?

1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-59952557
2. https://worldbooknight.org/news/living-in-a-notification-nation
3. Hilhorst, S, et al. (2018) A Society of Readers Demos p. 32
4. Billington, J, (2015) Reading between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure Quick Reads University of Liverpool
5. https://readinggroups.org/news/new-people-new-books-new-perspectives
6. Billington, J, (2015) Reading between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure Quick Reads, University of Liverpool


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