The answer to the eternal question of how to be a good parent might be as simple as curling up with a great book. A recent study from the University of Sussex found that reading physical books with children makes parents better: more attentive and affectionate.
The study focused on reading sessions with 24 British mothers and their children, ages 7 to 9, differentiating between those who read physical books and those who used a tablet and e-books. Researchers not only examined parent-child interactions, but also tested the children's retention of the shared material.
E-book enthusiasts will be happy to know that researchers found no difference in reading comprehension between tablet-users and those who read traditional print books, but the study did have some bad news for Kindle fans. Writing for The Conversation, University of Sussex Senior Lecturer in Psychology Nicola Yuill noted that, when parents read physical books with their children, "there was a significant increase in the warmth of the parent/child interactions: more laughter, more smiling, more shows of affection." In spite of this, Yuill is quick to point out that researchers have yet to reach a consensus on whether print books are truly better for children:
Text with audio support helps children to decode text, and multimedia can keep a reluctant reader engaged for longer, so a good e-book can indeed be as good as an adult reading a paper book with their child. But we don’t yet have long-term studies to tell us whether constant provision of audio might prevent children developing ways of unpicking the code of written language themselves.
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