Oct 28, 2013

    UK parents prefer books to tablets for bedtime tales

    WHEN it comes to reading to their children, British parents still prefer books to tablets, despite the proliferation of the mobile devices.

    According to a recent survey of 1,500 parents in Britain with children under the age of five, 98 per cent said they read to their children at bedtime, and only 5 per cent said they always use a tablet or an e-reader.

    The majority (70 per cent) of the parents polled said they always read a real book. But 24 per cent said they turn to an electronic device from time to time, AFP Relaxnews reported.

    Commissioned by Talking Tots, a British provider of communication and social-skills programmes for pre-schoolers, the survey also found that the most popular bedtime story was The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson, followed by Eric Carle's evergreen classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

    Advocates of technology may hail tablet computers as effective learning tools for older children because of the levels of interactivity they provide.

    However, 85 per cent of parents surveyed said that letting their kids turn the pages of a real book - and parents using different voices for the story characters - can be stimulating, too, according to AFP Relaxnews.

    Previous research had shown that using e-devices just before bedtime overstimulates the brain and disrupts sleep patterns.

    What makes the habit worse is that exposure to the artificial light from mobile devices for two hours or more can suppress levels of melatonin, the hormone in the body that promotes sleep, by as much as 22 per cent.

    This means that children being read stories from a tablet or smartphone would have a more difficult time falling asleep.

    Moreover, allowing children aged below two to use a tablet could delay their language development, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.