GUEST BLOGGER: Christopher Austin is a freelance blogger and writer. He basically belongs to Canada where he has been writing for more than 10 years. He has two kids, 10 and 12, and loves to spend time with them and his grandchildren. He enjoys reading both books and e-books in his free time.

NOTE: this blog entry expresses the writer’s views and does not pretend to represent the opinions of Pen Parentis, Ltd

Kids should read books and not e-books

Parents strongly believe that print books for their beloved kids can’t be replaced with the digital version of that book, also known as an e-book. They’re convinced that real books foster imagination; they’re a lot more intimate and accessible, not to mention that they can be felt. Kids are at liberty to freely touch the pages, analyse the story, and relate to the story in the most personal way possible. E-books can’t do that; everything is purposeful, digitized, and although the gadget might seem cool for kids, the simple idea that it’s electronic will distract their attention from the story and make them lose focus from the content.

A survey performed in New York City promoted real book reading, especially in kids – the survey brought to the surface a really interesting fact. Parents who are raising their children in a digitized environment are still reading print books to them before bedtime. Over 1,200 people participated in the study, and the survey found that most parents truly believe that there’s nothing more personal and interesting than an actual book.

E-book technologies distract from the text (photo credit: Travis Warren)

A lot of parents are convinced that e-books are a distraction and not a learning tool. Kids will be amazed by the technology and they will most likely ignore the story that is being presented to them. Although it is impossible to keep kids away from gadgets and revolutionary gizmos, we can still raise them to love print books. Most young parents are tech freaks, yet when it comes to reading some of them still find real books a lot more appealing than their convenient gadgetizations of the text.

Children’s books on a Kindle are not as attention-grabbing as print books. At some point your child will want to read on his own (or at least admire the image); yet he won’t be able to do that if the gadget breaks down, loses charge, or is not within easy reach. It’s really important for your kids’ room to have books. Place them everywhere and allow your loved one to act by himself. Try not to be too persistent and before you know it, Huckleberry Finn will become your boy’s best friend.

Books vs. e-books for kids (photo credit: Sam Webster)

New findings on digital books have generated quite a buzz. Specialists are hinting at the negative influences of e-books on children. A UK report mentions that electronic reading is poorly done, and that parents should find a way to make their children read print books. While it’s true that e-reading is done more frequently, kids are paying more attention to the images and videos on an iPad rather than focusing on the text. Technological gizmos are distracting to children of all ages (especially those who can’t read) and as much as the media is trying to advertise e-books for kids, most parents are still convinced that paper books are a lot more educational.

Why do parents think it’s important for kids to read print books? (photo credit: Lyn H. Ngyuen)

9 in 10 parents who are tech-savvy say that minor children should stick to print books. Electronic books are not books. They are movies with still images. Paper books are intimate – they foster creativity, imagination, and they can be carried around at all times, 24/7. Parents say that nothing can be compared with the feeling of holding your baby in your lap and flipping an old-fashioned kids’ book before bedtime. The excitement felt by the baby and the eagerness for the parent to turn the page will never be substituted with sliding on to the next page on an iPad.

Some parents strongly believe that e-books affect their kids ‘brains. Although e-reading is not the same thing as video gaming or watching TV, there are parents who consider that these activities are related. They might be right, to some degree. Digital books are placed in the same category with computer activities, which is why parents fear that e-reading can develop a child’s inner desires to spend more time playing with tech devices such as smartphone, tablets, laptops, and consoles.

Although we can keep our kids away from technology when they’re young, this doesn’t mean we should force them to ditch technology. Right now, it’s more difficult than ever to make a child love books; yet it’s not impossible to achieve if you start reading paper books together from a very early age.


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