News ID: 195361
Published: 1206 GMT June 24, 2017

Toddler learning best promoted by e-books

Toddler learning best promoted by e-books

A variety of studies show reading to young children is beneficial to brain development and learning. But researchers continue to debate the positives and negatives of electronic books.

A new study suggested, for toddlers, e-books may promote greater engagement and learning, UPI reported.

A team of researchers from the US and Canada had a group of parents read two books to 102 toddlers between the ages of 17 and 26 months.

Half of the parents were randomly assigned to read their children electronic books. The other half read paperbound books. The two books were the same for each group.

In addition to a voiceover feature, the electronic books also included background music, animation and sound effects. Paper books featured the same text and graphics, but no sound and animation.

Observers found toddlers who were read e-books were more attentive and participatory.

After story time, the toddlers were asked to identify an animal featured in the book they'd been read.

Each book included both farm animals and exotic animals, a mix of animals the toddlers were familiar with and those they'd never learned about before.

Children who were read e-books were better able to recall wild and previously unfamiliar animals — such as a koala, crocodile, zebra or lion.

Scientists suggest heightened learning can be explained by the children's increased attention and engagement.

Children who were read e-books were also more excited for story time than those who were read traditional books.

Researchers found parents were less likely to point to electronic books while reading to their children.

However, parent readers of both e-books and paperbound books spoke with and posed questions to toddlers during the reading process.

Scientists published the results of their experiments in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Study authors Gabrielle A. Strouse and Patricia A. Ganea said, "One important caveat to our findings is that increased engagement does not always translate into increased learning.”

Strouse conducts researcher at the University of South Dakota's School of Education, while Ganea works in the Language and Learning Lab of the University of Toronto.

Previous studies have shown interactive features in electronic books can actually distract readers and inhibit learning.

They added, "Experiences activating built-in features that act as entertainment may heighten any tendencies children have to interpret electronic media as games rather than learning tools.”

Still, the latest research suggest electronic books can encourage learning under the proper circumstances.

The research pair suggest additional studies needed to investigate the potential learning benefits of e-books.

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