30 Aug, 2015

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

Since the invention of the television, a box you could put a child in front of and leave them passively entertained, nothing has changed how children spend their time as much as the tablet computer.

Four years ago, just 7% of 5- to 15-year-olds in the UK had access to a tablet. By last year it was 71%. Some 34% of this age group even owned the tablets themselves, as well as 11% of 3- to 4-year-olds, according to Ofcom figures.

Abstract: Sharabi suspects this may be rooted in how parents have been using television for decades: screen-based entertainment for children is often a chance for parents to get other things done.

“It’s not just that kids are expecting screens to be noisy and shouty and fun and interactive. But also because of our middle-class guilt, where we put boundaries around screen time and tablet use, when kids get half an hour or an hour with the iPad, they will opt for the things that excite them the most.”

Support for this theory can be found in a report called Exploring Play and Creativity in Pre-Schoolers’ Use of Apps, which surveyed 2,000 parents and found their favourite children’s apps were educational and story apps.