Study challenges popular beliefs on e-reading

Study challenges popular beliefs on e-reading

It may be the tech-centric 21st century, but research shows that children prefer the traditional paperback book over screens when it comes to reading.

Research released by Murdoch University lecturer, Margaret Merga, in the Computers and Education journal, has found that reading frequency is less when children have access to a greater range of digital devices.


“There has been a knee jerk reaction that all children prefer to read on screens, and that has led to school libraries removing all paper books,” she said.


“However, this is not necessarily the case.”

The study, conducted last year, involved 997 children who participated in the Western Australian Study in Children's Book Reading.

The children were analysed to determine their level of access to devices with e-Reading capability and their frequency of use of these devices in relation to their recreational book reading frequency.

Respondents were found to generally underutilise devices for reading purposes, even when they were daily book readers. In addition, access to mobile phones was associated with reading infrequency.


Parents facing ‘aggressive marketing’

Merga said that despite the findings, children are gaining increasing access to devices through school-promoted programs while parents face “aggressive marketing” to stay abreast of educational technologies at home.

“Schools and libraries are increasingly their eBook collections, often at the expense of paper book collections,” she pointed out.

Merga added that when steering children toward reading on paper books, or eBooks, relative benefit needs to be taken into account, and this is not yet fully understood.

“It would be premature at this stage to say that the reading of eBooks offers equal literacy benefit to the reading of paper books; there is insufficient research at this stage supporting this contention,” she said.

“Much of the research exploring possible literacy benefits of reading eBooks does not do so in comparison to paper books.”


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