Is E-Reading Changing The Way Our Kids Read?

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We’ve all heard people expressing concerns about their children burying their heads in their phones at the dinner table, getting too obsessed with their image on social media, and developing an unprecedented urge for instant gratification, but what are the social and cognitive elements of technology and a child’s ability to read? Several studies have been conducted exploring children’s interaction with technology and how it affects their brain and their habits, so should we be concerned or excited?

eBooks Are Taking Over

Screen reading has begun to dominate the world of literature. We read social media content, blogs, news articles, emails and eBooks from our smartphones or tablets on a daily basis. With the increased accessibility to broadband internet and the rise in affordability of e-reader devices, the quantity of households that rely these devices has substantially increased over the last decade. How does this affect the future of humanity? Well, between 2012-2013, the number of children taking the National Literacy Trust’s annual literacy survey who owned some type of electronic reading device rose from 20% – 30%, tablet ownership increased up to 65% and smartphone ownership is up to 70%. Children aged 5 – 15 have seen an increase in the number of homes incorporating tablet reading to 42%. These statistics are stemming from the Electric publishing industry providing a vast selection of high-quality e-books conveniently and immediately. There’s no doubt that access electronic reading has opened the door to so many different tools and content to read, but does it positively affect the way children read?

Smartphone’s Effect On The Kiddos

Oftentimes, parents will hand their children a smartphone and tablet as an entertainment devices when they are in need of a break. We know being a parent is a tough job, but there are things to consider when giving your children a lot of screen time. While there is plenty of kid-friendly, educational content, the hard part is managing how much time they spend looking at the devices. A big detriment to excessive screen exposure is sleep deprivation. Children need to rest their rapidly developing brains and they can really lose out on some of that sleep when their brain is being stimulated too close to bedtime. It’s recommended to take the screen out of the equation at least an hour before bed. Sedentary behavior can also be attributed to excessive screen time, while physical activity will help your child stay sharp, healthy and focused. One of the most concerning determinants that can come from all that stimulus with the screen is shortened attention spans. About 11% of children in the U.S. are thought to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder which is making it difficult for the children to stay focused and retain the information. Yes, it all sounds bad but aren’t there some good parts too?

How eReading Helps

Electronic reading is highly beneficial especially when it is used in moderation and with assistive technology. In a study conducted in 2016, researchers tested children with reading disabilities over a one year span to see if assistive electronic reading technology would help them read at the same level as kids without reading disabilities. Results were conclusive in showing that the kids excelled far more with assisted reading than without. Not only does assistive technology help kids with impaired pupils’ learning processes but all children can benefit from it. They found that the assistive tech can increase motivation to learn and increase interest in reading activities.

Electronic reading technology such as tablets and smartphones has the potential to help our children learn and read more but it is essential that they have screen exposure in moderation. 1-2 hours a day properly utilizing assistive technology and consuming productive content is a recipe for e-reader success.

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