Does story time with an e-book change

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Choosing which book to read isn’t the only choice families now make at storytime — they also have to choose between print or electronic.

But traditional print books may have an advantage over e-books when it comes to the quality time shared between parents and their children, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by CS Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan and involving 37 parent-child pairs, found that parents and children verbalize and interact less with e-books than with print books. The results appear in the newspaper Pediatricswhich is published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“Shared reading promotes children’s language development, literacy, and bonding with parents. We wanted to know how electronics might change that experience,” says lead author Tiffany Munzer, MD, researcher in developmental behavioral pediatrics. to Mott.

“We found that when parents and children read printed books, they spoke more frequently and the quality of their interactions was better.”

The parent-toddler pairs in the study used three book formats: printed books, basic e-books on a tablet, and enhanced e-books with add-ons such as sound effects and animations. With e-books, not only did pairs interact less, but parents tended to talk less about the story and more about the technology itself. Sometimes this included instructions on the device, such as telling children not to press any buttons or change the volume.

Munzer notes that many of the interactions shared between parents and young children during playtime may seem subtle, but actually go a long way in promoting healthy child development.

For example, parents can show a picture of an animal in the middle of a story and ask their child “what does a duck say?”

Or, parents can tie part of a story to something the child has experienced with comments like “Do you remember when we went to the beach?” Reading time also lends itself to open-ended questions, such as asking children what they think of the book or the characters.

Munzer says these practices, involving comments and questions that go beyond content, are meant to promote children’s expressive language, engagement and literacy.

“Parents build their children’s ability to learn by connecting new content to their children’s lived experiences,” says Munzer. “Research tells us that parent-led conversations are especially important for toddlers because they learn and retain new information better from in-person interactions than from digital media.”

However, such practices occurred less frequently with e-books, with parents asking fewer simple questions and commenting on the storyline less than with print books.

The study suggests that improvements to e-books were likely interfering with parents’ ability to engage in parent-guided conversation while reading.

Munzer adds that nonverbal interactions including warmth, closeness, and enthusiasm during reading time also create positive associations with reading that are likely to stay with children as they get older.

The authors recommend that future studies examine specific aspects of tablet design that promote parent-child interaction. Parents choosing to read e-books with toddlers should also consider engaging as they would with the print version and minimizing the focus on elements of the technology itself.

“Reading together is not just a cherished family ritual in many homes, but one of the most important developmental activities parents can engage in with their children,” says lead author Jenny Radesky, MD, behavioral pediatrician. and development at Mott.

“Our results suggest that print books elicit a higher quality parent-child reading experience than e-books. Pediatricians may wish to continue to encourage parents to read print books with their children, especially for toddlers and young children who still need the support of their parents to learn from any form of media.”

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