‘Just Screen Time for Babies’: Do E-Books Aid Early Literacy?

PICTURE E-BOOKS: Interactive, electronic books may seem to offer a balanced kid’s meal of attractive technology and nutritious reading. But as Douglas Quenqua asks at The New York Times, “Does this count as story time? Or is it just screen time for babies?”

As parents decide whether to treat digital books as beneficial reading or detrimental screentime, the authorities give mixed advice: the American Academy of Pediatrics states both that “entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2” and that “reading regularly with young children stimulates optimal patterns of brain development." So read to your toddlers, and don’t let them use “entertainment media.” Does that mean no e-books?

Quenqua seems to think so, citing a 2013 study in which researchers found that electronic books led to lower reading comprehension among children than traditional books, since with e-books, parents and kids often focus more on the device than the story. So, sorry, e-books--looks like palpable picture books haven’t lost the under-five crowd to digital devices just yet.

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