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Print books more engaging than tablets for toddlers: Study

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sun, April 7, 2019  /  12:19 am
Print books more engaging than tablets for toddlers: Study

By asking questions, parents telling what they seeĀ on a page or encouraging their kids to point out objects the interaction increased. (Shutterstock/File)

E-books are the latest best-sellers as they are cheap and need zero shelf space compared to print books. According to Pew Research Center, the number of Americans reading e-books has increased from 17 percent in 2011 to 28 percent in 2014. 

Comparable numbers for toddlers do not exist yet. Tiffanzy Munzer, a fellow in development behavioral pediatrics at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children´s Hospital, estimates that 30 percent of kids use e-books at least once a week. But what do toddlers engage more with – reading on paper or on a screen?

Together with her colleagues Munzer conducted a study, published in the journal Pediatrics, to examine a child´s interaction with their parents when reading print books instead of electronic versions. 

“Our goal with some of the kinds of findings in the study is not to make things harder for parents, but to help them focus on activities that spark interactions with their children where they feel that back-and-forth is really easy,” Munzer told ABC News.

Up to 37 pairs of parents read three different stories from the Little Critter series to their 2- to 3-year-olds on three book formats for five minutes: an electronic tablet with visual and sound effects, an electronic tablet without enhanced effects, and a print book with illustrations. The number and kinds of interactions between parents and their kids were also videotaped and coded in a lab. 

Read also: Books and millennials: Do we still read for leisure?

It turned out that print books led to greater engagement between parents and toddlers and stimulated dialogue. By asking questions, parents telling what they see on a page or encouraging their kids to point out objects the interaction increased. Also, reading aloud from a print book turned out to be faster than reading an e-book and children made more non-verbal signs of bonding. Using an e-book led to more statements about how to use it like swiping to the next page. 

“The print book is really the gold standard in eliciting positive interactions between parents and their children,” Dr. Munzer said. 

Possible explanations for this behavior could be distractions, such as buttons to press, as well as the automated replacement of the variety of sounds and explanations that parents would otherwise provide themselves. 

However, Munzer added that “parents know their children well and have to make it come alive for their child to create that magic.” (sop/kes)