Fancy E-Books Aren’t Teaching Your Kid Jack
The mother in your carpool group may swear up and down that she only lets her kids use the family iPad for reading. But unless she has the kids reciting Rosetta Stone Portuguese, enhanced e-books aren’t really doing much — at least in the vein of reading comprehension. A small study of 32 parents and their children (aged three to six) demonstrated that kids aren’t too concerned with the story because they’re too busy being distracted by all the flashy accompaniments.
For about five months between 2011 and early 2012, researchers asked parents to read to their kids both with e-books and print books. Although children predictably exhibited higher engagement with enhanced ebooks — those that have interactive activities embedded in the narrative — kid’s reading comprehension and retention plummeted.
Cynthia Chiong, the lead researcher, says that although these kid-friendly gadgets should be applauded for encouraging children to read, being selective about certain platforms or even turning off some of the interactive capabilities would bode better for constructive reading. She also advises that parents bring the focus back to the story, and not the accompanying games or songs:
“It could be more effective for parents to say, ‘hey, let’s read through the story first and then let’s read through it again,’ to experience all of the interactive levels,” said Chiong.
Or, you can just hit up your local library from time to time — unless that’s not something all the cool tots are doing these days?