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Are digital kids’ books too distracting?

Jonny Diamond

March 22, 2021, 10:41am

First of all, I assume you’ve all seen those videos of toddlers interacting with print magazines, trying to swipe and pinch the printed page to make it go? I do not like those videos. But are digital books worse for kids or just a different way to access reading?

According to a new study (which included a meta-study of 39 previous studies) the answer is: it depends. Not surprisingly, if your digital bells and whistles don’t move the story along, they’re nothing more than rank distractions and you’re contributing to the delinquency of whatever we’re calling the next generation. However, according to Natalia Kucirkova one of the lead authors of the meta-analysis, creative add-ons—like an invitation to write your own fan-fiction around characters—can increase comprehension and story retention. The study also found that digital add-ons help with nonfiction retention (interactive maps, animal noises, etc.)

Kucirkova goes on to say: “Even small digital enhancements actually make a lot of difference both ways, they can work well, or they can distract the child.”

So, parents, the most important conclusion from this study is do whatever it takes to maintain enough sanity to be kind to your child when they need it.

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