Are Interactive ebooks good or bad for children?

Are Interactive ebooks good or bad for children? That’s a question every parent of a young child should ask themself, but it’s also a dumb question.

It’s a dumb question because there won’t be enough validated research data for 10, 15, 20 years. And even in 20 years there might not be an absolute answer.

A stick or a piece of wood could entertain me for hours when I was a child, and still do to this day but for much less time.

Absent of any digital assistance when I was a child, I was forced to use my imagination to create the world I wanted.

As a child I used my imagination to lift the words off a book, and I use my imagination to this day when reading a book and when creating my ebooks.

Children today are raised in a digital age, an age of immediate gratification in many instances. But there are questions being raised about the benefits of the digital age on children.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity discourage screen media and screen time for children under 2 years of age and recommend limited screen time for older children (American Academy of Pediatrics 2010; Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood 2010; Funk, Brouwer, Curtiss, & McBroom 2009; White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity 2010). Concerns have been raised about the lack of empirical research that demonstrates positive benefits from technology use. Much of the concern has focused on the content of entertainment and educational media produced for young children including: the effects of media violence and sexuality on young children and exposure to commercial messages, stereotypes, and inappropriate behaviors and social interactions. Educators and parents have also been cautioned about background TV, the passive use of screen media and the impact of screen time on childhood obesity; irregular sleep patterns; behavioral issues; focus and attention problems; decreased academic performance; negative impact on socialization and language development, time for play and other developmentally appropriate activities; and reduced time interacting with peers, siblings, parents, and other adults.” Source: A 2011 draft position statement by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College on Technology in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8

The position statement adds “Technology may also be used for activities that are not educationally sound, developmentally appropriate, or effective (electronic worksheets for preschoolers, for instance). Passive use of technology and media may also be inappropriately used as a replacement for active play, engagement with other children, and interactions with adults. Educators who are grounded in child development theory and developmentally appropriate practices, and are technologically and media literate have the knowledge, skills, and experience to select and use technology and digital media that are appropriate for the ages and developmental levels of the children in their care, and they know when and how to integrate technology into the program effectively. Educators who lack technological and media literacy are at risk of making inappropriate choices and using technology with young children in inappropriate ways that can negatively impact children’s learning and development.”

Interactive ebooks and Interactive apps for children are becoming popular downloads on Apple iTunes. One of the reasons is the Interactive ebooks and Interactive apps act as babysitters, entertaining the child while the parent or parents are occupied doing something other than spend time with their child.

Are Interactive ebooks good or bad for children? The answer right now is, yes and no.

Properly produced Interactive ebooks for children, Interactive ebooks that don’t mimic a TV show or movie in their presentation but instead are designed for imagination to flourish, could be good.

Without imagination we are all just robots.