New research has revealed that one in ten British people do not own even one book. The latest study suggests that rather than sitting down to read during leisure time, the average household in Britain has eight handheld devices which are linked to the internet.

And, nearly half of families said that they texted each other, even when everyone was at home, and they could simply have had a chat. Worryingly, those in a younger generation seem to be less concerned about owning books than their older counterparts because the number who did not own a book rises to one in five people aged between 18 and 24.

The research was carried out by the insurance company Aviva. It follows an earlier study which was released two years ago to coincide with World Book Day in March, which found that the average household contained 158 books. Households typically own an average of 8.2 electronic devices, while for homes with children, the figure rises to 10.9. Astonishingly, people who are aged between 25 and 34 have 11.2 devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets, within their household.

Punishment

The research also showed that parents are using gadgets as punishment. If children misbehave, then devices are turned off, or taken away for a period of time. It also follows a study from the National Literacy Trust, which surveyed a total of 18,000 young people, finding that a third did not own any books.

However, the latest research only seemed to be based on whether people owned physical, printed books and is not understood to have looked at how many e-books people either owned or read. The former Ofsted director Sir Jim Rose said that the latest research was very worrying. He said: “We are in serious trouble. We have entered the era of the Argos catalogue family: those with no books of their own at home.” Sir Jim added that it was vital that immediate action was taken.