Children prefer print books to e-books for both reading for pleasure and reading for education, a study by reading charity BookTrust has found.
Recent research conducted by BookTrust in association with the Open University investigated the use of digital media and e-books by young children, with particular focus on children’s reading for pleasure and shared reading with their parents at home. It investigated parental reports of practises and the associated perceptions of these practices by parents of zero to eight-year-old children. In total, 1,511 parents of UK children completed the survey.
The study revealed that 76% of surveyed parents found their children prefer print books for reading for pleasure and 69% prefer print books for educational reading. As for interactive e-books, only 30% of parents said that their child prefers using them for reading for pleasure, and 34% for educational reading. Only 15% of parents said that children prefer using simple e-books for reading for pleasure and educational reading.
The study found that reasons for preferring print books over e-books included children enjoying turning the book's pages, owning their own book and choosing books from the library.
The research also revealed that “even highly digitised households” prefer to use print books for children’s reading. Although 92% of parents and 73% of children were said to be confident users of technology, only 19% of children use an e-reader daily and 57% never use one despite having one in the home.
Most parents have concerns over children using interactive e-books, with only 8% having no concerns. The concerns that parents have include that interactive e-books will increase children’s screen time, mean they lose interest in print books, expose them to inappropriate content or too much advertising and possibly affect the child’s attention span.
The report concluded that there is a need to “seriously address the concerns of parents around using digital books with their children.” It said, that it is "clear that as children get older they will read more digital material" and that "those who have discovered the digital world with their parents may be more discerning readers and be less vulnerable to the allure of inappropriate or poor quality content."
BookTrust chief executive, Diana Gerald, agreed, saying: “Children will read online sooner or later, far better they are guided in their use through the eyes of a common sense parent or carer than they are left to explore alone.”
She added: "BookTrust is an unrivalled fan of printed books, but we must all embrace the digital world as children are growing up using many different platforms for their reading. What’s fantastic is that even reluctant readers are probably reading more now than ever if you take account of e-books, social media, gaming narrative, Facebook, texting, Twitter and online forums.
“However, some parents think digital reading has no place in shared family life. They think they might contaminate children’s’ reading experiences if they endorse digital books, but this need not be the case. When used thoughtfully, in partnership with printed books, digital books can enhance and encourage children’s reading for pleasure and can encourage further reading with print books."