There was an interesting article in my twitter timeline this morning, looking at research into whether reading eBooks to children has a similar effect as reading physical (print) books, or the more negative effects of screen time.
As we are a VERY heavily technologically focused household, the issue around screen time and children is one I find very interesting. My 18 month old is already a proficient user of my iPad, able to turn it on, find the application she’s after, switch between aps and cancel out the pop ups that she’s accidentally opened (if they have an “x” not “cancel”), but she also ‘reads’ physical books to her dolly’s and brings us stories to read to her.
She knows that bringing a book to any adult in this house, 95% of the time, will cause them to stop what they’re doing and read her a book. Repeatedly. This ‘trick’ even seems to work on guests.
Reading is big in our house. Technology is big in our house. Outside… not so much (everyone has their failings right?).
So what are your thoughts on eBooks and reading?
I use the iPad primarily as a babysitting device. I work from home, and her playing on the iPad for a bit will often give me time to finish that phone call, send off that email, code that complicated form, or just finish working. The aps I have installed for her are mainly musical. Although we do have a couple of ‘toddler’ aps, I don’t really see the value in them. Most are aimed at getting your child to read and count as fast as possible, and I personally feel there are better (and easier, less painful) ways of teaching these skills (at an appropriate age) than expecting an iPad to do it for you.
But, we do have eBooks installed. She loves listening to the Winnie the Pooh story (and touching the bees to make them hum), or To The Dump and making the cat meow or the car honk.
Is there a difference between the ‘read along’ story books that played on the record player, which I loved as a child, and modern eBooks on the iPad? Well, yes. My childhood interaction was turning the pages, and when I got a bit older I was allowed to turn the record over. E’s interaction is swiping the pages, but she’s also interacting with the images. There isn’t the focus on the words or pictures on the page as a story, there’s a hunt to find what will move or talk or appear.
As the article says, the technology is still too new to have any true measure of the effects it will have on children’s development.
My personal view is, as with everything, moderation and balance. I have an eBook that we’ve created ourselves, from family pictures, using simple text. This has no bells and whistles, just pictures we can talk about and text that is obvious. To me, this is a wonderful book to read, and we have it where ever we go. And, of course, because all the pictures are of family E loves it, because she recognises them.
Publishers are trying to outdo each other and get the parental spend. Yet, what I’d like to see is less bells, less whistles, and more plain, “boring” books, where the most exciting this is the ‘read to me’ option.