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Toddlers Benefit More From Print Books Than E-Books: Study

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When it comes to story time with toddlers, researchers reveal that print books are still more beneficial and engaging than e-books.

While tablets may have a slew of features to entertain kids and parents alike, a new study gives the edge to print in promoting healthy child development.

Toddlers More Engaged With Print Books

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, reveals that reading traditional print books with toddlers fosters more quality interaction between parent and child.

When reading print books, the parents and toddlers verbalized and interacted more than they did when they were reading e-books.

"Shared reading promotes children's language development, literacy and bonding with parents," Tiffany Munzer, M.D., lead author, says in a press release from the University of Michigan. "We wanted to learn how electronics might change this experience."

Thirty-seven pairs of parents and toddlers participated in the study led by University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital. Three different book formats were used: print books, basic e-books on a tablet, and enhanced e-books with features such as sound effects and animation.

The researchers observed that the pairs interacted less with e-books. Furthermore, parents talked less about the story and more about the technological features, such as the device, buttons, or volume.

More Interactions Are Better For Child Development

According to Munzer, interactions between parents and their children during storytime is an important part of healthy child development.

From asking open-ended questions about the book to relating the story to real-world experiences, practices during reading time promote language, engagement, and literacy. Non-verbal interactions while reading create positive associations with reading in the toddlers' mind.

"Parents strengthen their children's ability to acquire knowledge by relating new content to their children's lived experiences," Munzer explains. "Research tells us that parent-led conversations are especially important for toddlers because they learn and retain new information better from in-person interactions than from digital media."

These interactions occurred much less when parents used e-books to read to their children. Researchers suggest that the enhancements may be distracting the parents from engaging their children in guided conversation.

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