Are tablet computers harming our children’s ability to read?

This article is in today’s Guardian:

My first reaction to the concerns raised is that as long as children are reading something, it’s better than not reading at all. I agree with the worries that tablets could join televisions as being unpaid babysitters that are used to occupy the attention of youngsters, while their parents do other things.

There’s plenty of distractions available on tablets, which might well take a young reader’s attention away from the story. I like it that Gruffalo creator Julia Donaldson took a stand against allowing an app for her book to be created.

Image result for gruffalo and julia donaldson

The notion that the powers of imagination could be neutered by expecting things to happen automatically at the touch of a button is terrifying to me. Extrapolate that concept far enough, and you’re entering territory where stories are written by computers – which is already happening, of course, as discussed in other threads. Artists, of all types, would become redundant.

I agree with what the UK’s National Literacy Trust’s project manager Irene Picton has to say about books:

We often forget that books are a technology too, and one that’s had several centuries to evolve. With ebooks or apps, we’re comparing them to a relatively new format for reading. It’s important to be open-minded around this,”

It troubles me that the social aspect of reading a book together can be lost, should the tablet be seen as a solo device. Also, their space-saving capabilities mean that homes will have fewer books on shelves, which also reduces their importance. The tactile qualities of a book make it a friend to the reader, something lacking in a shiny electrical device.

Do any of you have children or grandchildren? It would be interesting to hear some empirical evidence on how youngsters use tablets for their reading.

Image result for child with tablet computer cartoon

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