Even Tech-Savvy Parents Are Nostalgic About Board Books For Their Children And I Hope It Stays That Way
Living in a small apartment in New York City, I was relatively quick to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. I still love the feel of a book in my hand, flipping and dog-earring pages, but my Kindle keeps the clutter under control. My husband and I have one bookcase overflowing with classics or favorites, and the rest are all e-books. The major exception to this rule? Our kids.
I have never even considered buying my children an e-book. I can barely wrap my head around it. And the overwhelming majority of parents feel the same way according to the LA Times.
This latest study echoes the results of earlier Pew surveys of American reading and parenting habits. Last year, a Pew study found that parents preferred printed books over e-books for reading to their children by a factor of 9 to 1.
What’s interesting is I can’t seem to point to an overwhelming sense of why. It’s not because parents are worried about screen time, according to WebMD.
Surveying more than 2,300 parents of children up to age 8, researchers from Northwestern University found that the vast majority — 78 percent — report that their children’s media use is not a source of family conflict, and 59 percent said they aren’t concerned their kids will become addicted to new media.
“We asked parents what their challenges were as the parents of young children . . . and sometimes media was never mentioned,” said study author Ellen Wartella, director of Northwestern’s Center on Media and Human Development. “Parents of children this age are concerned about their health, safety, nutrition and exercise, and media concerns are much lower down the list. That was a surprise.”
If it’s not an aversion to screen time, which rings true for me as well, the reasons why parents don’t like e-readers for their children are hard to uncover. In my house, part of it stems from the fact that my Kindle is a black-and-white version that is meant to mimic the look of a real book rather than an electronic screen. All of the allure of a children’s book would be lost on my e-reader.
Most of it, however, is good old nostalgia; the bright colors, the pretty covers, the feel of a child-size board book. I can remember the first time my infant son turned the pages of his bedtime story before he could even sit up. It was a surprising milestone that meant more to me than his first word or first step.
The Pew research shows similar generic reasons for shying away from e-books.
In a survey of the results, Pew analyst Kathryn Zickuhr said focus groups show some parents “want their children to have the same pleasant book-reading experience they remember from when they themselves were children.”
Without concrete reasons to object to e-books for kids, I wonder if this is just slow resistance to an inevitable trend. It’s possible of course, but my gut says no. It was a choice for me, as an adult, to make the practical switch to an e-reader, but when introducing the experience of reading – not just the physical act of viewing the words, but exposing them to new worlds, sounds and sights – nothing compares to a tangible book.