Children respond better to parents reading from books compared with tablets

06 Dec 2021

2 minutes reading

Source/Revelations

disclosures:
Munzer reports no relevant financial disclosures. See the study for the relevant financial disclosures from all other authors.

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Reading from printed books has more benefits for children than reading from a tablet, according to a study published in Pediatrics.

More than 98% of families with children aged 0-8 have a mobile or tablet, according to a 2020 study also published in Pediatrics, and most children aged 2-4 spend an average of 2 hours or more per day on digital media, according to findings published in 2020 by Common Sense Media.

These data partly inspired the concept of the new study, according to co-author Tiffany g. Munzer, MD, a pediatric developmental behavior researcher at the University of Michigan.

“Digital technology is almost ubiquitous in the lives of families, but there isn’t enough that we know about the effects of digital media, on how children learn and develop and grow,” Munzer told Healio.

“We were really curious how a tablet app might compare to one of the best or gold standard ways to interact with the child, which is by reading a printed book,” Munzer said. “And so we wanted to compare some of the differences between using a book on a tablet app compared to a parent and child reading over a printed book.”

Munzer and colleagues examined interactions between 72 parents and their young children, ages 2 to 3, in a lab that resembled a living room. Each parent was asked to read their child a printed book and then one story each on two tablet apps — often simple stories and nursery rhymes familiar to the readers. The tablet apps had special modes and buttons for interaction, as well as an auto-play feature.

“After the parents and children did this experimental protocol, we went back and watched the videotapes, and [noted] all the different ways parents talk to their kids,” Munzer said. “We also counted how often the child reacted to their parents.”

The researchers concluded that parents showed more verbalizations while reading a book than on a tablet (mean 35.95 vs. 27.16, P < .001; P < .001), and that children responded more to parental verbalizations while reading a book. book.

“We found that parents interacted less with their children through a tablet app, speech was a little less developmental, and children were less likely to respond to their parents when interacting through a tablet, which is more or less what we expected. Munzer said.

“When parents made developmental attempts to interact with their children via a tablet, the child’s response was still below that. I think it’s important to note that parents are really smart and talkative, and they “Knowing the kind of language that stimulates their children’s response, and encourages them to pay to talk more. The tablet even dampened some of the positive effects of what parents naturally do with their children instead of a book.”

While the answer isn’t to ban tablet use among children, Munzer said the researchers hope software developers take note of what will help children use tablets and develop similar skills to reading printed books.

“For families, the tablet can be such a useful device,” Munzer said. “But there are certain aspects of the tablet that were not designed to facilitate this type of interaction and were not designed with children’s development in mind. It’s not to say ‘don’t use a tablet’, it’s just that maybe we can take some of the lessons we know from [reading a print book], and hopefully try to translate it to the tablet.”

References:

Common sense media. The Common Sense Census: Media use by children ages zero to eight. Published in 2020. Accessed December 6, 2021.

Radsky, JS. pediatrics. 2020; doi: 10.1542/peds.2019-3518.

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