The Joan Ganz Cooney Center studies children’s media from various vantage points. Their most recent study looked at parents’ preferences when it came to reading with their young (ages 2-6) children. What they found was a mixed bag.
While parents who read iPad books with their kids found certain features helpful, they found others distracting. They gave the thumbs up to audio features like clicking on a word and hearing it pronounced. They were less enthralled with embedded games and videos that are ubiquitous in ebooks. Parents found them distracting and a deterrent to reading with their kids.
The study also found that a parent’s enjoyment of reading on an iPad didn’t necessarily transfer to reading with their child on an iPad.
Interestingly, the study also found reading e-books has not replaced reading print books altogether in families with iPads. The majority of parents preferred to read print books over e-books with their kids.
I’m not surprised by parents’ voting for print over e-books when reading with their children – are you? Electronics have earned their place – at least for this generation – as electronic babysitters. My hunch (and I wish the study had asked looked at this) is that for now kids enjoy ebooks more than print books when nobody is there to read with them. The iPad is still an electronic babysitter, but no replacement for a parent’s lap and a printed page.