After researchers pored over seven surveys and tests by public and private groups, they found a clear and dramatic decline in the amount teens and pre-adolescents are reading. The analysis is outlined in a study released on Sunday by the San Francisco-based Common Sense Media, which looked solely on reading trends and achievement overtime.

The most recent data reported that 45 percent of 17-year-olds only read for pleasure one or two times a year. In 2012, 19 percent of students reported reading every day, which is a quick drop compared to the 31 percent who were reading daily in 1984. By 1980, there were one million personal computers in the world. Today, the United States alone has over 310 million personal computer owners, according to the Computer Industry Almanac Inc. census.

The digital revolution has inundated children and teens with cellphones, tablets, laptops, and other platforms to distract themselves from the bookshelf. This has led researchers to questions if there is a link between the increase in technology and decrease in reading levels.  

James Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media, has four kids and says he has seen the trend most with his 16-year-old. "And I start to see it in our 10-year-old, as well, because he is less and less reading, and more and more attracted to some of the digital media platforms that he has access to, and that he did not have access to when he was, say, 6 or 7 years old," he said.

The study did not conclude that digital platforms are the culprit, but the researchers analyzing the data did think it was an obvious connection. They also pointed out that the impact of electronic reading, such as e-books and reading on social media, such as Twitter, has not been evaluated yet.

"First of all, most children now have access to e-readers, or other smart electronic devices like phones and tablets," he said. "And they're spending time on that. Numerous reports show the increasing use of new technology platforms by kids. It just strikes me as extremely logical that that's a big factor."

In terms of national test taking abilities and reading comprehension, there has been an improvement in fourth and eight graders since 1992; however, education researchers are not impressed. Only 46 percent of Caucasian students are proficient in reading, and when race is taken into account, it becomes worse.

Among African-Americans, only 18 percent of fourth graders and 17 percent of eighth graders are considered proficient readers from test evaluations. Latinos sit a little higher, at 20 percent and 22 percent respectively.

Is there a difference in gender? Of course there is. In fact, the study shows a gender gap of 30 percent of girls ages 15 to 17, who say they read five to seven days a week, while only 18 percent of boys say they read that often.  

"That gap," Steyer said, "is shamefully huge."

Steyer emphasizes the need for a national education effort aimed at reading with the collaborative effort of parents, schools, businesses, and policy makers, while there is already an ongoing effort to improve upon STEM programs (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

New types of educational programs are emerging throughout major cities, known as Pathways in Technology Early College High School or P-Tech for short. Students enroll based on a lottery system, and those who make it are given a highly STEM-focused education that lasts them for six years. Why so long? Students graduate with a high school and associate’s degree with a guarantee $40,000 job at graduation.

These P-Tech schools were originally developed by IBM, the New York City department of education, and the City University of New York. They are an innovative approach to the U.S. education system in order to fill the need from industry by pushing the importance of STEM programs and de-emphasizing a four-year liberal arts education.  

The post-World War II period was the last time state governments decided to reevaluate the education system. They made high school, previously optional, mandatory. The move was made to ensure the future populations would have a more skilled workforce in order to compete with a newer, higher-tech industrial era, according to Time. Researchers, such as Steyer, believe it’s reading’s turn to steal the focus of lawmakers and drag the heavy burden of low reading levels.

"This is a cause for genuine concern," Steyer said. "As a father of four and an educator, I think reading is so essential to kids' academic success and long-term well-being."

Steyer also recommends parents to step up and set the standard for their children, by providing model behavior and increasing their own reading time. The study did find that about half of all parents read to their children under 12-years-old every day.  

Researchers hope to pursue further studies to determine how e-books affect children’s reading proficiency through retention and comprehension, especially since it is such a new phenomenon in this new digitally pervasive world.