Printed books are more beneficial than e-books for Toddlers and young minds

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Researchers found that grown-ups and toddlers have more meaningful conversations when reading from printed books rather than stories from e-books. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Screen time for children below two years should be strictly prohibited, according to paediatricians. Smartphones, tablets, and digitally enhanced toys or games tend to deter the creative ways of playing and interaction between children and caregivers. These interactions are important for the child’s social, emotional and cognitive growth.

Dr. Tiffany Munzer of the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor who is the lead author of the study says that “We know shared book reading is such an amazing developmental activity to engage in with children – not only by exposing children to rich language and vocabulary, but also by providing opportunities for physical closeness and creating moments to bond.”

“Parents and toddlers know how to engage over a book, but when adding a tablet into the mix, it deflects from some of the positive benefits of that shared reading experience,” added Munzer. “That isn’t to say there is no benefit to electronic book, just less than when you compare it with a print book.”

Munzer’s team recorded 37 parent-child pairs in a reading session for the study. The parents were asked to read the same stories in three different platforms – ‘traditional printed books, e-books without any bells and whistles, and “enhanced” e-books with extra features like sound effects or animation.’

The interaction, conversation and collaboration between the child and the parent were observed during each session. The study saw that they interacted more when it came to traditional printed books.

The toddlers asked more questions and spoke up more when the parents read from printed books.

“One benefit of reading to kids is the “back and forth” dialogue that can happen while parents are sharing a story with young children and help put the story in the context of the child’s life experiences, mentioned Dr Suzy Tomopoulos, Department of Pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine through an email.

“For example, if the book is about a trip to the zoo, the parent can talk about their last trip to the zoo and the animals they saw,” added Tomopoulos.

She also mentioned that “Shared book reading with print books has been well studied and has been found to help child development, language, and social skills… One of the main problems with screens is that they interfere with these high-quality parent-child interactions that would otherwise take place.”


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