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Electronic Books Tied to Less Verbalization Among Parents, Toddlers

WEDNESDAY, March 27, 2019 -- Parents and toddlers verbalize less with electronic books than with print books, and collaboration scores are higher with print books, according to a study published online March 25 in Pediatrics.

Tiffany G. Munzer, M.D., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues conducted a study involving 37 parent-toddler dyads reading on three book formats (enhanced electronic with sound effects and/or animation, basic electronic, and print). Verbalizations were coded in 10-second intervals for parents and children. On a scale of 1 to 5 (5 = high), shared positive affect and collaborative book reading were coded.

The researchers found that with print books, parents showed significantly more dialogic (print, 11.9; enhanced, 6.2; basic, 8.3), text-reading (print, 14.3; enhanced, 10.6; basic, 14.4), off-task (print, 2.3; enhanced, 1.3), and total (print, 29.5; enhanced, 28.1; basic, 29.3) verbalizations, and fewer format-related verbalizations (print, 1.9; enhanced, 10.0; basic, 8.3). With print-book reading, toddlers showed more book-related verbalizations (print, 15.0; enhanced, 11.5; basic, 12.5) and total verbalizations (print, 18.8; enhanced, 13.8; basic, 15.3) and higher collaboration scores (print, 3.1; enhanced, 2.7; basic, 2.8).

"Given the decreased quantity of parent-child verbalizations and quality of interactions occurring with the electronic books that we studied, pediatricians may wish to recommend print books over electronic books with distracting features for parent-toddler shared reading," the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to PBS Kids and Melissa and Doug.

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Posted: March 2019

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