Parents, Skip the Ebooks and Bond with your Kids

Little brains.

That’s what parents and teachers are helping to build, with every interaction. Increasingly, those interactions seem to be on digital devices rather than in print. And that could be having a negative effect on how those little brains develop.

“E-books are cheaper and easier to store but when it comes to engaging young learners, print books still lead the way, a new study has found,” notes this post from Study International. “They allow parents to get through more of the story too, according to the study published in the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.”

“The print book is really the gold standard in eliciting positive interactions between parents and their children,” lead author Dr. Tiffany Munzer told ABC News.

For busy parents, this might not be great news; digital devices are often used as a way to keep kids busy and entertained. But this comes at a cost to the level of engagement parents have with their kids.

“In the study, parents and their toddlers were given three mediums to read three different stories from the Little Critter series back-to-back: An electronic tablet with enhanced visual and sound effects, an electronic tablet without enhanced effects, and a print book with illustrations,” the article notes.

“When studying these 37 pairs of parents and their toddlers, who were given a five-minute limit to read, Munzer and her team looked at the number and type of interactions shared by the families. These include parents explaining what they see on pages, asking questions and encouraging their toddler to point out objects,” it continues.

The researchers found that the toddlers made more statements and showed more signs of non-verbal bonding with their parents when reading in print.

“When using tablets, families talked more about the gadget than the story. This included asking about how to use the tablet; for instance, how to swipe to the next page or where to push a button,” the article continues.

“These can distract young learners from the real benefits of reading, which is the development of language skills, as well as attention, memory and thinking skills that will prepare them for school,” it continues. “These come from having books read to them, enacting stories or having conversations about the stories in the book.

While it’s important for children to learn how to effectively use technology, it doesn’t outweigh the importance of parent-child bonding, critical thinking and comprehension. The digital learning can wait; let’s use these precious toddler years to sit down and read our kids some books in print.

“The print book is a really beautiful object in that each parent and child interacts differently over a print book,” said Munzer. “Parents know their children well and have to make it come alive for their child to create that magic.”