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When it comes to reading to your kids, is high tech better?

Posted at 7:30 AM, Jul 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-19 08:49:52-04

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — About 25% of all American families own e-readers, and 75% have electronic tablets that can download books and magazines, but are eBooks the best way for children to learn to read?

When it’s time to read to your child, do you go old school or do you and your child prefer high-tech? Tiffany Munzer, MD, a pediatrics fellow at CS Mott Children’s Hospital, and her colleagues studied a group of 2-year-olds and their parents to learn more about their interactions during print and eBook reading.

“We think that toddlers are a really important age group to consider just because of their burgeoning executive functioning skills or burgeoning attentional capacity, which might make them more susceptible to some of the distracting enhancements that are found in electronic books,” Munzer told Ivanhoe.

The researchers found with eBooks, families conversed less and focused more on the technology.

“We heard words like swipe that page, or tap that button, or don’t touch that page, or don’t exit the program,” said Munzer.

The researchers said with print books, parents made more connections between the book and real life. Munzer said if parents use eBooks with children, treat the tablet like a print book. Ask kids questions about the story. Have a back-and-forth conversation. These are strategies that help build early literacy skills.

Munzer said previous research involving preschool-aged children suggested that print books provided more of what’s called dialogic reading than eBooks. The new research indicates the effect is the same with even older children.