Electronic books for children, at what age?
Technological advances are influencing and even changing the way new generations read. Paper books are no longer the only access to information and literature. Today there is e-books, computers and mobile phones.
While the experience of having the weight of a book in your hands, turning pages, viewing ink drawings and even the smell of pages is something that can not be replaced with a technological device, these new technologies are an alternative valid to promote reading habits in children.
Different studies have shown that children between 7 and 12 years old find it motivating and exciting to use e-books to read. They also found that adults mostly prefer printed texts while children are more ambivalent in their preference where half prefer written texts and the other half e-books.
The impact of electronic books on children's reading
More than one school has studied the possibility of starting to use e-books to replace the traditional textbooks since they are cheaper in the long run, having the need to pay once the device versus buying new textbooks annually. Although e-books do not seem to be preferred by teachers or students, the use of computers has replaced the printed text in many countries in many institutions. For now the design of electronic books finds its purpose in reading for pleasure and are not functional as the only academic support.
Due to the current attractiveness of technology as a means of reading, there is evidence to affirm that the use of these media can be of great help in boosting reading habits in children. On the other hand there are studies that show that the use of e-books It presents more advantages than portability. Electronic books provide the possibility of searching for the meaning of words or the pronunciation of words, thus stimulating the linguistic abilities of their users.
Long-term effects of reading for children
While the love of reading and the benefits of the magic of reading can be acquired in adulthood, it is usually the taste acquired in childhood and adolescence the strongest and the one that prevails over the years. In 2012, a study was published that shows that both young adults and older adults who report having a higher frequency and quality in reading habits show greater neuronal activity when reading and less activation when retracting information recently read. Other tests in this same study showed that there is more brain plasticity as more cognitive activities are promoted throughout life.
The journal "Neurology" published a longitudinal study where the effect of reading on its brain structure was measured. All the participants donated their brain to the study after passing away. It was found that participants who reported greater mental stimulation through reading showed better scores on cognitive memory batteries and fewer signs of neurodegenerative diseases, regardless of the anatomical state of their brain.
This beneficial effect of reading was increased in those people who reported having had good reading habits since childhood. As parents, we have the opportunity to help our children lower their chances of suffering from signs of dementia. It is good to know that as adults we still have opportunities to improve our cognitive performance, adults in this study who reported starting to read and perform other cognitive activities in order to stimulate their brain once they were adults, had a decline of 32% less than those adults who did not perform mental and reading activities beyond the average.
While there are genetic factors that influence the suffering of a neurodegenerative disease or not, while we can not avoid suffering from a disease, having good reading habits help maintain good cognitive functioning. Stimulating our children's brain through reading and stimulating our own makes a big difference.
The effect of reading on the brain
1. The human brain can be compared to a backpack. Everything that enters through the senses becomes part of our being.
2. The imprint of reading. Once a stimulus, an image, a sound or a phrase are incorporated into our experiences, there is no way to disincorporate them. Once a book has been read, there is no way to forget it.
3. The memory of the details. Although we consciously do not actively remember the details of everything we have read, that has become part of our vocabulary, our world and repertoire of possible behaviors and thoughts.
Take care of the content of your children's readings
While this may be a positive aspect, it is a double-edged blade.This aspect has a negative side to mean that if we do not take care of the content of our children's readings, we can be allowing them to be exposed to worlds that we do not want them to belong to. For this reason, it never hurts to read reviews about the books that we introduce at home, ask for opinions from family members, teachers, friends and / or even consult the internet.
Maite Balda Aspiazu. Psychologist and Master in Cognitive Neurosciences
More information in the book:
How to make children readers. Carmen lomas Pastor. Ed. Word.