Blog by Bridget Hobbs
With the number of smart phones, tablets and e-readers on the rise, children are being exposed to electronic technology early and often in life. However, I am writing this blog in an effort to convince parents that reading tangible, real books where you can manually turn the pages is so much more beneficial for your child then reading on an electronic device.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that “studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.” The American Academy of Pediatrics goes on to state that television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under the age of 2, and for children and teens limited to no more then 1-2 hours per day.
What is better than bonding with your child reading a book on a comfy rocking chair? When you read to your child, s/he learns important speech concepts like when to use different tones of voice, reading fast/slow at different parts of the book, and simply how to pronounce new words they may have not heard before. A tablet or ipad often reads words at the same pace, in a monochromatic voice, so children do not get the benefits of using different aspects of language. Also, when you read to your child, you are often asking questions like “do you see the bear?” or “what do you think happens next?” These concepts are important for children to learn conversation building, and again, are not offered via electronic readers.
We all know that distractibility skyrockets when using tablets or smart phones, for both children and adults. When reading on these types of devices, children often want to switch apps quickly, to get to something else. Reading ‘real’ books helps children learn to focus, increase their attention span as well as their imagination.
A child’s brain grows and develops rapidly, especially in the first few years. Books offer a tangible, sensory experience that electronics simply cannot offer. Often books for younger children offer different textures of: furry, rough and smooth so children learn by feel.
Believe it or not, there are also a lot of motor benefits to reading. Children learn to develop a pinch grip by gripping the pages and turning it. They also develop a sense of reciprocal coordination when turning a page right to left as well as a sense of midline.
Surely there is a convenience for tablets and smart phones on long car rides, airplane trips, or in a doctor’s office waiting room. However, for the day to day reading, do your child a favor and stick to ‘real’ books. They will love the bonding and interaction that they will get with you and you will see the results! There are already many tablets replacing books in school aged children, and your kids will definitely learn to ‘swipe, tap, and scroll’ when they hit school aged. For younger children, try to reap the benefits of going old-school, picking out your child’s favorite copy of Goodnight Moon or The Cat In the Hat and help them learn to love to read!
About the Author
Bridget Hobbs, PT, DPT, is a licensed physical therapist with a passion for working with kids with special needs. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences from Marquette University and then continued at Marquette to receive her clinical doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2006. Bridget started her physical therapy career working with adults who had orthopedic, cardiac and neurological injuries. In 2009, she began working in the pediatric realm and has found her home in this setting. Areas of interest for Bridget include treating children with torticollis, orthopedic injuries, autism, gross motor delays and neuro-muscular disorders. Bridget has advanced training in aquatic therapy, respiratory treatment, treatment of torticollis, gait and working with premature infants. She looks forward to using her experience and passion for kids to translate to great therapy with your child.