The Key Note presentation in Theme I (How do Parents and Children Engage with eBooks?) was presented by Julia Parish-Morris. Her presentation, Parent-Preschooler Interaction during Electronic and Traditional Book Reading (Julia Parish-Morris, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Roberta Michnick Golinkoff & Brenna Hassinger-Das) perfectly covered the themes and issues that would reverberate throughout the two days of the conference. She began by illustrating the growing infiltration of digital technology into every aspect of our children’s lives, describing this situation as a “giant unplanned experiment” that produces a great deal of anxiety as reflected in popular news stories. Julia presented several experiments, including both published and unpublished work. These studies led to a common conclusion: interactive features such as hotspots and animations in electronic books increase “behavior-related” talk by parents and lead to a competition for control of the device during shared reading by parents and children. All these distractions hamper story comprehension by children. At the same time, the use of high quality dialogic reading prompts by parents (in particular “distancing prompts” that help the child relate story content to their own life experiences) promote story comprehension during reading with both traditional and electronic books. These findings stimulated a back and forth dialogue about alternative responses throughout the conference – do we redesign the electronic books or redesign parents’ reading strategies when using the books? Or more drastically, try to proscribe access to these digital tools altogether?
Conference Abstract: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents read to their children daily from birth. At the same time, the AAP suggests that parents avoid screen time for children under age 2. Given these recommendations, how do we as parents, educators, clinicians, and developmental scientists, deal with the case of electronic books? Should e-books be considered shared reading, or are they more accurately categorized as screen time? In this talk, I will review a recent study of dyadic reading between three- and five-year-olds and their parents in the context of electronic books and traditional paper books. I will talk about how parent language, child language, child story comprehension, and parent enjoyment of the shared reading interaction changes when parents and children read electronic books and traditional paper books. A new study using iPad apps will be described, and language implications of screen time for our youngest children will be outlined. Finally, I will present some new ideas for electronic applications that may be beneficial in certain early childhood contexts (but not all).
Conference slides: Parish-Morris DigLitMcGill slide upload.