Ariele’s Final- How eBooks are affecting children in the 21st Century.

Ariele Pappalimberis

Publishing

Final: Added Chapter

December 9, 2013

Question: How are e-books affecting children in the 21st century?

            Since 2010, the amount of children that have engaged in reading an e-book has almost doubled; however, “eighty percent of kids who read e-books still read books for fun primarily in print” (Media Room.)  As long as print books have been established, people have always loved reading books to their children whether it was a nighttime story or just a fun way to pass the time.  As we begin to move into a much more digital era some are beginning to bring technology into their kids’ lives a lot more.  “Seventy-two percent of parents show an interest in having their child read e-books” (Media Room.)  How this affects our children is unknown.  

            After looking at all of the variables that are involved with kids and their use of e-books I have found myself looking at three potential scenarios.  Some surveys say that children are poorly affected by reading non-printed books, where other sources say that e-books have positive effects on kids, and still other studies mention that eBooks affect boys and girls differently. 

            Those who have been reading print books to their kids for years now are seeing the e-book take over, and some studies are saying that this form of reading has negative influences on children.  “Many believe that this change is for the worse and will further shorten the attention span and affect the literacy of children” (Wood.)  Wood goes into support this statement with saying that a lowered attention span is due to the lowered level of interaction there is between a child and an eBook, thus creating a permanent divide between the child and the book itself.  To my experience, when kids read print books they are invested in that style of book more because they are able to hold on to it and flip the pages, but when reading an e-book this cannot happen.  Professor and director of the Center for Teaching Through Children’s Books would agree with me on this by saying, “the shape and size of the book are often part of the reading experience. Wider pages might be used to convey broad landscapes, or a taller format might be chosen for stories about skyscrapers” (Matt Richtel & Julie Bosman.)  Instead, when using an e-book the child holds onto a screen and does not have that same contact with the flipping of the pages.  This then enables children to begin to daze off and start thinking about something other than the story.  One book that I always think back to reading when I was a kid was Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister and how great it was touching the fish’s shiny scales on the page.  I then think about how this type of interaction could never occur when reading Rainbow Fish on an e-book.  The idea of a physical copy of a book being in your hand is what readers are attracted to, especially if you are a child.     

            Studies show that once a kid reads a book on an electronic device, they start to wonder what else it can do and don’t become so interested in reading.  In study that was based around the literacy levels of those who read storybooks and then those who read from print version, two of the many experts that were involved stated, “…..the iconic facets of e-books have a stronger appeal for children of kindergarten age than does the story text, that more readings of the e-books decrease the listening to the content of the story…..” (Korat & Shamir.)  When kids interact with an eBook they become distracted with the electronic device itself and how it works rather than paying attention to the information that they should be taking in from the story.  This then creates the problem of children having a short attention span.  Another worry that many people are considering when it comes to kids and their use of e-books is the outcomes of using this form of publishing for children in their years later on.  Studies have found that those who are use e-books have a lesser chance of having a favorite book as well as a lesser chance of understanding the story.  Those who read only on-screen are also three times less likely to enjoy reading very much (12% vs. 51%) and a third less likely to have a favorite book (59% vs. 77%),” (Bacon.)

             As electronic devices that contain e-books make their way into almost every home, their power over children keeps growing.  “Experts said that the huge increase in children’s e-book sales could lead to a generation of people growing up reading more from Kindle screens than from real books” (Hall.)  This could certainly question whether print books will even be a necessity in the world as time goes on and as other electronic devices where you can get books begin to be developed.  Although many love reading print books, there are a huge percentage of parents who want their kids to start reading e-books so they can open their range of reading.  Researchers have found that a positive effect that e-books have on children is their ability to make children want to read more by giving them more options and genres to pick from.  You can either search for a certain genre when using an electronic device or you can have your electronic device give you recommendations of other books, based off of the eBooks that you have already read.  This can be done by adding certain apps to your electronic device such as Ebook Reader which allows you to set up your very own library on your electronic device.  “Ebooks.com’s Ebook Reader lets you read your favorite books on the go.  Go to eBooks.com and choose from a massive collection of popular books that you can download in a jiffy” (Ebook Reader.) In a library the process of picking out books may take a much longer time to do so.

            Reading in general is a huge part of a kid’s life, but how they take part in this action is very important as well.  Above there is a quote from Bacon which states that those who primarily  read eBooks enjoy reading less and are less likely to have a favorite book, but this is not agreed by all.  Some say that e-books may be the way to get kids to read more frequently.  “E-books may also be the key to transition moderately frequent readers (defined as kids who read one to four days a week) to frequent readers (those who read five to seven days a week), Scholastic says; according to the study,” (Peterson.)  What makes e-books appealing to kids is the ability to have many different books with them all the time and all in the same vessel.  Kids don’t want to have to carry around a ton of physical books, so they go to the next best thing which in some minds is the e-book.  “But the report also draws an interesting conclusion about how print books or e-books (in this case, iPads with multimedia features) are alternately preferred in certain situations” (Barseghian.)  In some cases the positive effects of an e-book such as gaining a vast variety of books can outweigh the negative effects which are having a declining attention span, but one would say that it is circumstantial given the child and the family.

            With everything being circumstantial, the idea of eBooks effecting boys and girls differently is a topic that needs to be explored more.  Much of the information that was focused more towards boys and the positive influence that eBooks have on them.  “We are seeing that kids today are drawn to both print books and e-books, yet e-reading seems to offer an exciting opportunity to attract and motivate boys and reluctant readers to read more books,” (Peterson.)  Studies involving girls and their use of e-books have shown that the importance of reading to girls has decreased throughout the years.  This idea of e-books effecting boys and girls differently is something that I have not thought about before, but it is certainly worth looking more into.  

            Some may say that as long as parents are reading with their children, then who cares how they are doing it?  This may be true, but one has to look at the effects of reading a print book to a child and then the effects of reading an e-book to a child and think about the pros and cons of both sides.  Reading print books will always act as a great way to interact with both the book and the people involved, where e-books allow children to search for more books with a touch of a finger.  As mentioned above the results are certainly varied and as time goes on we will have to see how kids who read from print and from e-books adapt to the ever-changing world of technology and publishing.  

Works Cited

Ebook Reader. Program documentation. iTunes. Apple Inc., 2013. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.

“Kid Reading By The Numbers.” Instructor 122.6 (2013): 34-35. Academic Search Complete.       Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

Bacon, Beth. “Are Ebooks Worse For Kids Than Paper Books?” Digital Book World. F+W           Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved., 12 June 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.            <http://www.digitalbookworld.com/2013/are-ebooks-worse-for-kids-than-paper-books/>.

Barseghian, Tina. “Survey: Parents Prefer Reading Print Books to Young Kids.” Web log post.             Http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/09/survey-for-young-kids-parents-prefer-reading-       print-books/. MindShift, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.          <http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2012/09/survey-for-young-kids-parents-prefer-reading-   print-books/>.

Hall, James. “E-books Could Become the Norm for Children as Sales Soar.” Telegraph Online      Newspaper London. Telegraph Media Group Limited, 18 Sept. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.             <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/9551136/E-books-could-become-the-norm-     for-children-as-sales-soar.html>.

Korat, O., and A. Shamir. “Electronic Books versus Adult Readers: Effects on Children’s             Emergent Literacy as a Function of Social Class.” Journal of Computed Assisted           Learning, 2007, 248-58. Accessed December 8, 2013. doi:Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Media Room. New Study on Kids’ Reading in the Digital Age: The Number of Kids Reading          EBooks Has Nearly Doubled Since 2010. Scholastic.com. N.p., 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 20    Oct. 2013. <http://mediaroom.scholastic.com/press-release/new-study-kids-reading-     digital-age-number-kids-reading-ebooks-has-nearly-doubled-2010>.

Peterson, Karyn M. “Kids’ Ebook Reading Nearly Doubled Since 2010, Scholastic Reading          Survey Finds.” The Digital Shift. Media Source Inc., 14 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

Richtel, Matt, and Julie Bosman. “For Their Children, Many E-Book Fans Insist on Paper.” The    New York Times. The New York Times Company, 20 Nov. 2011. Web. 6        Dec. 2013.             <http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/business/for-their-children-many-e-  book-readers-  insist-on-paper.html?_r=0>.

Wood, Steven. “Children Using E-books a Growing Concern for Some.” Tom’s Guide.      BestofMedia All Rights Reserved., 5 Apr. 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

            <http://www.tomsguide.com/us/ebook-children-reading-literacy-tablets,news-        14704.html>.

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