Today’s Solutions: January 30, 2023

Most parents read books with their children before bed, but with the rise of modern technology, the iPad is quickly replacing the dog-eared picture book. However, new research indicates you might want to hold onto those physical books as they are more beneficial for cognitive development in children than digital versions.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Health C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital studies interactions during storytime between 72 parents and their toddlers, and found that there was more parent-child discussion and more emotional response from children who were read physical, paper books.

The children, who were all between 24 and 36 months, were more likely to talk to their parents about the book and more prone to emotional outbursts when reading a physical book. These high-quality interactions help children develop critical thinking skills and boost cognitive development. 

According to lead author Tiffany Munzer, 98 percent of children under nine own a cell phone or tablet. “Tablets and mobile devices are prominent fixtures in modern family life, but they aren’t as educational or valuable to children’s development as traditional books,” she said.

The team hopes their findings will help advise parents, but they also note that this type of research should encourage software designers to consult early childhood specialists when developing digital stories and content. Eliminating features like ads, animations, and automatic page turning can help digital content replicate the beneficial aspects of a physical book.

As for parents, the advice is pretty clear: head to the library this week, not the app store. “Parent-child interactions through shared reading promote language development and literacy and may also benefit friendships, school success, and other child development outcomes later in life,” said Munzer.

Source study: Pediatrics – Parent Verbalizations and Toddler Responses With Touchscreen Tablet Nursery Rhyme Apps

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