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More screen time won’t ruin your kids’ ability to read books

Children with Phone

In today's digital era, the year-end school holidays offer students a chance to delve into their interests, often leading to increased screen time. As concerns about the decline of deep reading grow, it becomes crucial for parents to consider the coexistence of deep and digital reading in their children's lives.

Financial Times columnist Simon Kuper highlighted the impact of digital media on reading habits, emphasizing the need for balance. Deep reading, associated with in-depth engagement with print-based media like novels, develops critical thinking and empathy, as UCLA professor Maryanne Wolf argues. Simultaneously, digital texts, such as websites and social media feeds, enhance skimming and scanning skills, enabling quick information identification.

Research from Singapore and Norway revealed that animated e-books can improve vocabulary retention compared to print-alike books. Motion features guide children's focus, enhancing comprehension and memory—ultimately contributing to kids' ability to read books. Despite concerns about increased screen time, studies show that age-appropriate and educational digital content can benefit learning.

The National Library Board (NLB) exemplifies the positive trend in digital reading, with a steady increase in e-book loans and a growing user base. E-readers, designed for optimal long-form text reading, are affordable and distraction-free compared to mobile devices, supporting kids' ability to read books.

Encouraging deep reading in younger children involves reading aloud, fostering reading habits through shared time, and engaging in conversations about books. These practices contribute to the development of a "biliterate brain," a term coined by Maryanne Wolf, allowing individuals to navigate both deep and digital reading.

In conclusion, the evolution of technology doesn't signal the demise of deep reading. Instead, intentional efforts to cultivate both literacies in children are essential. Balancing screen time, embracing educational digital content, and promoting traditional reading habits will equip the new generation with the skills needed to thrive in our ever-changing world, enhancing kids' ability to read books.

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