Reading with your children: tablet vs. real books - does it make a difference?

Spending time reading a book with your small children is one of the best ways to build a bond.

It’s a positive habit that’s been practice for hundreds over years all over the world.

With the advances in technology, many parents are using tablets (e.g. iPads) to read with their children.

Does this achieve the same level of bonding and child education?

Multiple studies have been done on this and all of them have shown that: no, using tablets does NOT work in the same way paper books do.

These studies revealed the following:

  1. When using a tablet, small children focus more on “tapping and swiping” than “reading” and “learning”

  2. When using a tablet, parents and children “fight” for control of the tablet: the child wants to tap and swipe while the parent is fighting to get them to stay on the same page;

  3. The tablet is distracting and the child isn’t communicating or listening to the parent, which eliminates a big benefit of spending time together: establishing communication.

In addition to these major issues, there are physiological ones which I often talk about:

  • All electronic devices emit a lot of “blue light”

  • Blue light triggers a drop in melatonin (sleep hormone) and a release of cortisol (stress hormone): this makes it difficult for the child (also adults) to fall asleep and stay asleep

  • Electronic devices emit and receive a high level of electromagnetic signals (bluetooth and wifi). These can pause a significant risk to the development of the nervous system of a young child (it also affects adults, which is why we don’t have wifi in our bedroom & we put our phones in airplane mode when we sleep)

Link to studies.

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