Category Archives: E-Books vs. Print Books

Are ebooks for kids evil?

Are ebooks for kids evil?

Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapre

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Source: Alan Dapre

ebooks or evil books?

In the Metro a few days ago there was a headline – “Reading e-books to 3-yr-olds ‘a bad idea’.”
It stated that ‘reading interactive e-books to under-threes could hinder their development and break vital bonds between parent and child, experts have warned.’

Ivan Krapvin (yes, that is his name) says that ‘Screen technology is a static activity in comparison with movement in play and, with young children, it’s also an obvious conclusion that their eyesight is likely to be damaged.’ Ivan teaches at a school with children who have additional support needs.

Arig Sigman of The Royal Society of Medicine is quoted that ‘moving images prevent children from wanting to read’ and is critical of interactive storybooks as they could reduce a child’s imagination.

But is it true?

I am not an expert. I was once a Deputy Headteacher though and that has given me some insight into parents and young children. So here I am going to plumb for a totally unscientific, gut feeling response.

‘Everything in Moderation.’ See what I did there? I am not condemning the earlier statements but simply saying that ‘less is more’. Yes, if a child is glued to a screen then that is obviously A BAD THING. But what if they have paper books around and want a change. They are motivated to pick up Mum or Dad’s shiny new iPad and get their sticky mitts swiping away on virtual pages.

I write and illustrate picture ebooks so I do have a vested interest here but I am not daft. My three year old daughter has read my latest ebook ‘Cuddle Muddle’ on an eReader and knows it by heart. She can happily recite it while playing with her toys, recreate scenes, etc – and that surely is beneficial. She has used the ebook as a springboard for imaginative play. Of course, she has lots of paper books and we have been sharing stories ever since she was born.

I appreciate that looking at a screen is static so it makes sense to add ebook to a mix of reading situations. Looking at labels on objects, reading leaflets and comics, exploring paper books … and swiping images on an iPad.

Parents actually BE parents

So what it boils down to for me is that parents should step in and actually parent properly. By that I mean limit the amount of time a child spends on one activity, and encourage conversation and imaginative role-play to spring from ebooks.

Some younger parents may be gadget obsessed and books are a rarity at home. So the e-reading software on most phones and computers might actually be a good thing if it encourages a parent to sit with their child and share an electronic book.

Otherwise what should parents do? Pass the e-reading revolution by? Put their kids in a time machine and whisk them back to the 1960s … where they will probably meet experts decrying television.

Give a little, take a little.

Technology defines societies and I can imagine a prehistoric neanderthal expert saying to other cavemen – ‘Better not create fire – it’s hot.’

Yes, ebooks should come with a parental warning. ‘If you let your child read on this device for hours on end, never talk to them and throw away all their toys … you are stupid!’

And if you are an expert in your field and you hold an extreme view then that probably is a bit daft too.


Cuddle Muddle by Alan Dapre

See all 2 photos
Source: Alan Dapre

It’s up to you.

So no, I don’t think ebooks are evil or damaging or inherently BAD things. They are simply a useful tool/reading experience to be used in moderation alongside other reading activities. It is true that the amount of time children spend in front of a screen is at an all time high. But whose fault is that?

Responsible parents will ensure their young children act responsibly. Surely the issue is about parenting, not reading here? Apparently only 1 in 3 households in the UK have physical books. That is a separate subject for another day.

Happy reading.