Has your kanji reading deteriorated since starting with computers? graph of japanese statisticsWith the ubiquity of computers and cell phones, penmanship skills become less and less used. To see how this affects the average Japanese, japan.internet.com reported on a survey conducted by JR Tokai Express Research Inc into handwriting and character input. This is a survey I’d love to see in full!


Over the 21st and 22nd of April 2008 330 members of the JR Tokai Express Research online monitor pool completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 51.8% of the sample was female, 3.6% in their teens, 16.7% in their twenties, 36.1% in their thirties, 28.5% in their forties, 8.8% in their fifties, 5.8% in their sixties, and 0.6% aged seventy or older.

I translated a similar survey on literacy back in June of 2006. This time almost 60% had over 10 years of computer usage, and in total almost 90% had over five years experience, so this sample mostly contained mature users.

I use the computer on the whole to prepare documents, but when being creative, in particular when forming ideas, I use paper to sketch out, as the limitations of a keyboard stunt my inventive processes. Meeting minutes and notes are also always done on paper as I can simultaneously write and listen better than I can type and listen. Also, if I can’t be bothered switching on my computer in the train I’ll just use paper there.

Research results

Q1: When writing, do you write by hand or by computer? (Sample size=330)

Nearly always write by hand 5.2%
Mainly write by hand 7.0%
Round about the same for both 13.3%
Mainly write by computer 12.1%
Nearly always write by computer 60.3%
Never write anything 2.1%

Q2: Do you feel you’ve become unable to write kanji since you started using computers? (Sample size=330)

Feel so strongly 42.7%
Feel so a little 41.8%
Don’t feel so 10.3%
Writable kanji has increased 0.9%
Can’t say either way 4.2%

Q2: Do you feel you’ve become unable to read kanji since you started using computers? (Sample size=330)

Feel so strongly 8.2%
Feel so a little 20.9%
Don’t feel so 50.3%
Readable kanji has increased 16.1%
Can’t say either way 4.5%


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