Reading Electronically Might Actually Be Better for Your Kids

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Read a toddler a print version of The Cat in the Hat, then read them an E-book version. Which one is better? According to a recent study, young children are more engaged by electronic books.

In the studt, researchers Gabrielle Strouse and Patricia Ganea—from the University of South Dakota and the University of Toronto respectively—compared toddler reading habits in a random trial. Parents were instructed to read their toddlers two books about farm and wild animals, either in a print or electronic format. Observations showed the children who read e-books were more involved in the reading process, more engaged in discussing the book and paid closer attention while reading than children who read print books.

Strouse and Ganea qualified their results, saying, “One important caveat to our findings is that increased engagement does not always translate into increased learning.”

The two researchers credit the additional features of e-books with increasing childrens’ engagement levels. Animations, background sounds, narration and additional activities provide toddlers with more activity, and also more chances to take part in the learning process.

With this information in mind, it’s possible these books may not differ in terms of actual learning, but rather just by how interested a toddler is to interact with them.

These findings encourage parents to engage their children through e-books, and reverse the current print book trend 2016, E-book sales plummeted by 17 percent in the UK and 18.7 percent in the US. Meanwhile, the number of print children’s books rose by 16 percent.

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