The digital society of today is having a detrimental effect on children’s reading habits due to the loss of ‘having a quiet mind’, according to recent research from Egmont UK.
But the children’s publisher’s Reading Street study has also revealed books and digital can co-exist to have a positive impact on children reading for pleasure.
31 per cent of parents studied described their family life as hectic with never a moment to relax and that these ‘time-poor’ parent worry when their children appear to be doing nothing, giving them ‘interactive screen time’ to fill the interim.
Egmont’s study observes that children are used to having a digital device with them almost 24 hours a day, and are becoming unfamiliar with the term ‘offline’.
Alison David, consumer insight director, Egmont UK, said: "Today we are all expected to continually multitask and we often feel guilty if we think we are wasting even a second.
"At the same time in many families interactive screen time has taken over to such a degree that children’s minds are over stimulated. And having a quiet mind is of course when reading for pleasure can happen.
"The digital world has the potential to be hugely beneficial to children’s reading but we need to get the balance back."
Despite the attractions and challenges of screen time, the study has also identified how families had found a way to balance the screen time so that reading can co-exist with screen based entertainment.
With possibilities such as personalising books, sharing recommendations online and interacting with the stories, families are becoming more excited by the prospects technology brings to reading.
One boy aged 13, said: "I used to read books before bed but now I use the iPad instead. I’ve downloaded ice hockey / sports books and books about zombies as well."
While physical books still resonate with children – 2012 saw 73 million children’s books sold – the study highlights books like Minecraft, Angry Birds and Moshi Monsters as examples of technological books.
Rob McMenemy, senior VP Egmont English Language and Central Europe, added: "The lost art of being still is just one of the new insights our Reading Street study has uncovered.
"As a publisher we want to encourage and preserve the enjoyment children can get from reading for pleasure and it’s clear from our research that it’s still seen as hugely important by parents.
"It doesn’t matter if a child accesses stories from books or through a digital device, what matters is taking a step back from our incredibly busy lives and finding the quiet moments where reading for pleasure can happen."