I have just done it again: spent the past 20 minutes serving the alerts on my phone rather than writing this - and none of the new messages or tweets were actually even that interesting.
When it comes being online, it seems I am not alone. The average New Zealander currently spends half his or her waking hours there with me.
Research released this week by Read NZ looked into our online reading behaviours. By texting the research participants at different times of day over a week, the researchers were able to accurately calculate how much reading we do in a week and how we do it.
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They found at any time two out of three New Zealanders are reading. Even with all the hype about You Tube, new comer Tik Tok and the delights of streaming services, it seems we are still very engaged with text. In fact, we are reading more than ever before.
Of the reading happening in New Zealand, the research found 70 per cent is online. We are most likely to be reading our emails, news websites or our social media feeds. That's the good news.
The bad news is this reading often involves flicking between multiple screens or reading and doing something else at the same time (like looking at our Instagram feed while watching TV). Much of the reading done online is short snippets of information, "5 min read" news articles or Instagram the hashtags.
Many of the research participants couldn't account for what they were doing online when asked. They were probably down the rabbit hole of their social media feeds - an experience common to many of us.
These findings are not unexpected. When we read on a screen we usually read in an F or Z pattern flicking across lines of text. Our brains are wired for novelty and like to bounce between new pieces of information. So it is not surprising that 53 per cent of those surveyed said they skip over longer pieces online and 43 per cent report they find it harder to read longer and denser articles than before.
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However, spending time reading longer text, the neuroscientists are finding, is important for a number of reasons. We need to do so to keep our ability to concentrate or maintain our "cognitive patience". Emerging research also suggests that regularly reading denser, longer texts might delay the onset of dementia.
Reading is linked to the development of empathy (as you are immersed in the views of someone else), key to educational achievement and life-long learning and, because not all information we need can be condensed into bite-sized snacks, key to being part of discussions and debates around you.
At Read NZ we celebrate that we are reading more than ever, but challenge you to think about how you are reading. Take a moment out to actually read that article bookmarked weeks ago, download an e-book or visit a library or book shop for the latest yarn from a favourite author.
We dare you to focus on your reading and ignore the pings from your phone or the temptation to flick to another screen. How long can you go for?
• Jo Cribb is the chief executive of Read NZ (formerly the New Zealand Book Council).