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Help! My Teenager is Addicted to Reading

I heard giggles coming from her bedroom. It was nearly midnight. She’d gone to bed hours before. I stared down the hallway expecting to see darkness but I saw a streak of light peaking under her door. Inching near her door I heard it. It’s a sound every parent fears coming from their teenagers room. I took a deep breathe and opened the door unsure of exactly what I might discover.

I’d caught her reading. Again.

My heart sank because this isn’t the teenage life I’d dreamt of for her. It’s not supposed to be this way.

Like millions of parents of teenagers I struggle with a teenager who is addicted to reading. Over coffee I explain the symptoms to my friends, their eyes swell sympathetically.

  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Good grades
  • Growing vocabulary
  • The occasional late fee at the library
  • Excessive ideation and imagination
  • Exposure to life outside of San Diego

I know I’m not alone. Other parents suffer through this hellish reality, we are silently united– bonded over the sorrow of a lost teenage experience.

Action Plan to Cope With Teenage Reading Addiction

Though there is no known cure for teenage reading addiction, there are some things you can do which might help your teenager find their way out of the rabbit hole.

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  1. Introduce YouTube – They say free time is the devil’s playground. Well, I suggest trying to keep your teenager distracted from reading by occupying their time with something more healthy… viral video. With millions of videos in every genre known to mankind, encouraging your teenager to access YouTube on their phone or tablet seems to distract their mind from the itch they feel to pick up a book.
  2. A Boyfriend – It’s nearly impossible to read books while kissing and/or holding hands. A boyfriend is an excellent remedy for a reading addiction. Just make sure to check his wallet. If he has a library card he is bad news, kick him to the curb.
  3. Bullying – Many teenagers who bully also have a low literacy rate. This can be an excellent alternative for teenagers with a high literacy rate. While introducing bullying to your teenagers life may be a tough sell, they may discover that being the villain in their story is more interesting than reading about the villain in a book.

Fellow parents: What are other ways you are helping your teenager overcome a reading addiction? 

Photo credit: Pile of Books by Texas State Library Archives via Flickr (Creative Commons)

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

9 replies on “Help! My Teenager is Addicted to Reading”

We have the same child. Seriously. I cope with this addiction by offering to buy new electronic devices or suggesting a higher use of social media. It’s a little expensive, but it does help with the intervention. I have also suggested that we just drop her at the mall to wander aimlessly for hours- of course it is one without a book store or even access to magazines.

Your Action Plan is very questionable…(forgive me if I have missed any sarcasm)… but REALLY I believe this is a good thing to address although needs more thought than this:

1. Introduce YouTube – with all the rubbish that is on the net I’d much rather my child be reading a book.

2. A boyfriend – I don’t know if I should take you seriously especially with this point… You are just preparing your child for hardship, dating is not just a playground or something to use to distract one from something, it is something that is much more intricate and can have much bigger consequences on your child’s life in the long run, than your child being a book addict.

3. Bullying – … (I’d rather not comment)

Reading is a great thing, especially in our culture today. If your child is addicted to books, don’t be overly concerned. I would encourage the reading of books on a balanced diet.

Why it is great to have a teen addicted to reading:

1. Much better than half the other things your child could be addicted to.

2. You can encourage your teen in what he/she reads to help shape them, e.g. encourage them to read some good christian books like “pilgrims progress”, “Narnia”, etc. there are lots of great christian books for your teen to read!

3. It builds your teens imagination

4. It builds your teens literacy skills (which many teens in out technological world lack).

The list could be copious but I’ll leave it there.

Some suggestions to help your teen build a healthy reading habit:

1. Call your teen to “Honor your Father and Mother” Exodus 20. Set some boundaries; (1) have a set time for lights out, (2) limit the amount of books per week(?). And if your teen breaks goes against these have an appropriate consequence.

2. Invite people around to your home with similarly aged teens .

3. Encourage your child to participate in at least one school sport per term.

4. Have fun family time – instead of watching t.v. after a meal or in free time, go out and do things as a family, or play games at home with your teen as a family, seek to make these times fun. Not only will this help with the reading addiction but will grow your family.

*Most importantly and firstly lay your concern before God our Father in prayer.*

Ohmygoodness Barry Thatcher! Your sarcasm was buried DEEP. At first I just thought that you were completely clueless and really must not know the source of the article at all and then . . . oh. nevermind. I think that’s exactly the problem. (Sorry!)

Thank no help at jokes.i came looking for a real answer. My child would reather read then do her school work or go out side . Falling her 11 the grade year because reading is more important them math and all other classes. She gaining weight because she just sits and reads thank this was truly a waste of my time

Traditionalists fear new technology and media and claim it to be source of all evil. I honestly believe that if a child does adapt to the ways of the modern world, and buries her/his head in a book it’s more destructive than if they were to learn to navigate the tools of their modern world – social media, YouTube, gaming.

The argument was made that books, newspapers, etc. are somehow more credible sources of information. I cannot take that seriously at all.

What we should be teaching our children is how to think critically, check facts, come to us parents, how to deal with criticism of random strangers and be social with the tools of modern society.

Some parents reject socialization online and encourage their children to reject it or even worse forbid their children from getting involved. However, if every other child has modernized and your child is looking for dated ways of socializing, they are going to be pretty lonely or socially behind.

This is more of an issue with parents that are unable to adapt to the modern context, and children being the victims of inadequate and stubborn traditionalist parenting.

is this sarcastic or what bc i don’t get it, nothing better than book addiction, I am a teen who is addicted to books, just be careful not to read in dim lights, it hurts your eyes… BUT OTHER THAN THAT. HOW CAN U COMPLAIN.

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