Digital Books for Kids: Pros and Cons
From the enthusiastic endorsement by a Librarian to the strategic insights of a Founder, seven experts share their diverse experiences with digital books for children. Including insights from Educators and Librarians, this article explores the nuanced pros and cons of e-reading for the young mind. From the Kindle sparking a child’s reading enthusiasm to balancing digital and physical reading habits, dive into the digital debate.
- Kindle Sparks Child’s Reading Enthusiasm
- Advocacy for Physical Books in Libraries
- Physical and Digital Book Roles in the Classroom
- Structured Screen Time for Educational Use
- Digital Books Aid Children With Disabilities
- Evaluation of the Cognitive Impact of Digital Books
- Balance in Digital and Physical Reading Habits
Kindle Sparks Child’s Reading Enthusiasm
So many pros. A Kindle Paperwhite helped transform a reluctant reader in my family into a voracious one. The font size was adjusted to make reading comfortable. Words could be tapped on and immediately defined.
The formidable element of a book being too long was completely removed. And the “6 minutes left in this chapter” feature helped set reasonable goals and improve stamina. Last, we can check them out from the library through Libby and send them directly to the device. Amazing!
Cons: I catch this kid reading under the covers way past his bedtime!
Advocacy for Physical Books in Libraries
Digital or printed, I’m in favor of anything that gets kids reading. I spend our school library budget on hardcover books for several reasons.
They practice critical library skills when they search for a title by call number, author’s last name, or Dewey Decimal location. They take their time instead of scrolling. If the Internet goes out, no worries. Heck, even if the power goes out, they can still read a printed book.
When I see students spread out all over the library, reading in comfy chairs, in rockers, on the floor, and in pairs, it seems they are more fully immersed in printed books (and several research studies back this, citing higher retention rates and engagement versus digital).
They have enough screen time. I love to see them head out the door, hugging books, tucking them under their arms, or trying to sneak a peek at the next page as they walk down the hall.
Digital and Physical Book Roles in the Classroom
I enjoy using digital books in the classroom because of the ability to display the printed pages to the entire group and show how print is read. I also like to have the physical book as well to teach book attributes and page-turning. Both formats have a use in the classroom.
Structured Screen Time for Educational Use
We implement a structured approach. We established a dedicated time slot for screen-based educational activities, creating a clear and defined schedule to which both my child and I adhere.
Setting a specific time for educational screen use serves multiple purposes. It helps integrate technology into the learning routine while also preventing excessive and uncontrolled screen exposure. This intentional approach ensures that the screen time is purposeful and aligned with educational goals.
As a parent, active supervision plays a crucial role in maintaining this balance. I make it a point to be present and engaged during my child’s screen time, actively taking part in the learning process.
Digital Books Aid Children With Disabilities
Preferring digital books over physical ones is often a contentious topic. However, digital books have plenty of merits that make reading a valuable experience for young bibliophiles, especially those with learning disabilities.
Digital books can benefit children with learning disabilities by offering customization features, including adjustable font sizes and text-to-speech functionality. These features assist children with visual or reading-related learning disabilities by providing auditory support and accommodating individual needs. The interactive elements in digital books, such as animations and multimedia, engage different learning styles, particularly benefiting children with attention-related learning disabilities. Highlighting and note-taking tools in digital books can help children focus on essential information and create personalized study aids.
Immediate access to various materials in digital libraries allows parents and educators to find content that suits a child’s current abilities and interests. Digital books easily integrate with assistive technologies, such as screen readers and speech recognition software. Some platforms also offer feedback and progress-tracking features, assisting parents and educators in identifying areas that may need additional support. Lastly, using digital devices for reading can help reduce the stigma associated with traditional learning materials, fostering a positive attitude toward reading and learning.
There may be a little less magic or whimsy associated with reading digital books than with physical ones, but the value remains. Digital books are essential and effective resources for readers with learning disabilities.
Evaluation of the Cognitive Impact of Digital Books
The digital book revolution promised lighter backpacks and a seamless transition into the “tech” era, yet the ongoing debate on its appropriateness for middle schoolers—and developmental years—is far from settled. Dating back a century, the e-book surge infiltrated classrooms around 2007, subsequently sparking research on its cognitive impact as schools began digitizing textbooks to alleviate students’ physical loads.
Challenges persist, particularly for developing students, regarding screen glare and flicker taxing cognition, the absence of “tactile” page tagging (bookmarking) affecting spatial memory, and blue screen light disrupting crucial reading patterns like the “F” pattern and lack of “white” space on the page.
Despite the advantages of e-books, research continues to reveal concerns around distractions and almost compelled multitasking, while reading add-ons fall short of promises to enhance reading comprehension or retention.
The push for digital textbooks widens equity gaps, contradicting claims that today’s students are “wired differently,” negatively impacting fundamental skills from decoding to information transfer.
Understanding our students’ developmental needs ensures they will be provided with both solid cognitive foundations coupled with the tech prowess and abilities needed for success.
In the growing digital age, moderation is key, especially for students whose prefrontal cortexes are still developing. Continuing to decipher the balance between the use of print vs. digital resources within our classrooms is essential.
Balance in Digital and Physical Reading Habits
As a school psychologist and educational therapist, I believe digital books for children have both pros and cons. On one hand, they offer interactive features that engage kids and enhance their learning experience.
However, excessive screen time can be detrimental to their development and may hinder their ability to focus. It’s crucial to strike a balance and encourage a mix of digital and physical books to promote healthy reading habits.
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