“Mommy! Mommy! Tonight, for story time, can we read Winnie the Pooh?” You grin when you hear these words come out of your 4 year-old’s mouth. You walk to the bookshelf and pick out The Blustery Day, a favorite, and open it to the first page.
Except tonight, things are different. “No! Not that one; this one!” The demand comes as they whip out the tablet.
When that first happened to me, my heart dropped. “Is this ok?” and “Does this count as screen time?” are the first two thoughts that raced through my head. I gave in this once, but then I had to start doing research. Here’s what I found:
I found an article claiming that “eBooks affect children’s reading levels”. Yikes! With a title like that, I mentally add the word ‘negatively’ to the phrase. I read on to find the source of the data and find out that things are not as bleak as the way the data was collected might have skewed the study and, therefore, the article.
The study they used showed that kids read longer and are more confident in their reading level when they read mostly or solely from print books. They also showed that more parents said they had less fun sharing eBooks with their kids. However, the data was taken in a survey. Other studies have shown that the vast majority of adults who are readers are passionate about print books so this may introduce bias into the study. eBooks have had a positive influence on comprehension though, and nearly double the number of kids loved reading more on screens than on paper.
So… are we are back at square one? Not necessarily, but now we’re exiting data and entering into opinions. I’m of the belief that, as a parent, I should be encouraging my kids to read and using any tool I can to get them to love books. Their imagination, their sense of wonder, and their creativity depends on it!
Is it OK? Yes! It might not be ideal, but it’s definitely not harmful. If your child is getting bored of reading print, or actively avoids reading a print book, try reading from a tablet instead. If your child loves print, don’t take that away from them – stick to print; it’s too easy to be distracted on a tablet.
The answer to this question is equally unclear. Even the New York Times couldn’t answer it, with all their researchers and expertise.
The question takes on different meaning depending on your perspective. By looking at screen time as “Shooting rays of light from a screen directly to your retina through your eyes” for example, would clearly place tablets and some eReaders in the “screen time” category.
Your child’s brain, if you read out loud to them, would still pick up the same lessons and ideas as any print book would give them. In this sense, eReading is not screen time. Nor are these lessons taught in a passive, non-brain-power inducing manner like television and Netflix would, so again – one more point for eReading.
As a parent, deciding whether or not to limit their reading time by the number of minutes they previously spent watching Paw Patrol on Netflix is a judgment call you have to make. My guidance would be to look back in the previous section: if your child is getting enough reading through print, ban the extra screen time. If not, then be lenient. If you’re going to be lenient often, explore getting an eInk device instead of your regular tablet – just to be easier on their young eyes.
What’s you view story time using tablets? We’d love to hear from you. Share your comments in the ‘Leave a reply’ section below.