New Study Reveals Toddlers Engage More With Print Books Than Ebooks

I remember as a young toddler my first book of nursery rhymes and all those colorful pictures. I also remember my mother reading to me and as time went by I connected the pictures and the words. I became hooked on books and eventually graduated to books without pictures using my imagination as the world of what was and what could be opened up to me. 

Studies have shown that there are many benefits to early reading such as brain development, and teaches a child to love learning. The benefit of early reading also promotes educational success, and helps in the maturing of positive traits such as creativity, confidence and empathy.

But the interesting thing about the latest study conducted with the pairing of parents and toddlers shows the positive benefits of reading the printed book especially in promoting positive interactions between parent and child. The study took 37 pairs of parent-toddlers and had the parents read stories from the Little Critter series. They used back-to-back sessions of 5-minute time limits for each session.

In the first five minute session a printed book was used. Then in the second session, a basic ebook. In the third session, an enhanced ebook which had music, sound effects and animated characters was used. During each five minute session, researchers observed and recorded the parent-toddler interactions which included talking about the story, asking questions, reading together, and positive or negative directions.

Researchers found there was more positive interaction between parents and toddlers with the printed books. Toddlers were more actively engaged when reading a printed book and collaborating with their parents and the adults experienced the same results in that they talked more to their child, asked more questions and the best part was the greater bonding and sharing between parent and child.

When the ebooks were used there was the collaboration during instruction of usage and the ebook device become more of an impediment to the development of a natural rhythm of the child’s learning and bonding in the parent-toddler relationship. Also, when the enhanced ebooks were used the enhancements were more of a distraction and interfered with story engagement and text comprehension. The study showed that ebooks can be problematic if parents are too busy working the device rather than with their child.

The conclusion of the study is that the printed book is still the gold standard in promoting positive interactions between parents and their children says Dr. Tiffany Munzer, who is the study’s first author. She is also a fellow in developmental behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

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