Is It Better for Children to Read on Paper or on a Screen?

The inclusion of new technologies has changed our way of reading and the devices we do it on.
Is It Better for Children to Read on Paper or on a Screen?

Last update: 04 May, 2020

Since the introduction of new technologies and, more specifically, new technologies in the world of reading and books, the debate on whether children should read on paper or on screens remains a very topical issue.

There’s a widespread idea that children are often reluctant to read paper-based books. People say that they prefer to use an electronic device and read on a screen. However, is this actually true?

There are a few points on the subject that both teachers and parents should consider.

Digital reading

It’s true that today, children of all ages, even those under three, are perfectly capable of handling electronic devices according to their own abilities. Moreover, they love to use them and investigate all their possibilities.

Despite having grown up with these devices, the youngest children of all don’t usually use these devices for reading. Even those who read a lot prefer to read in the traditional way.

Reading on a screen has a number of advantages:

  • The child can enjoy interactive books
  • There are extra applications related to the book’s story
  • You can have several books on the same device without having to carry them all individually

However, the main disadvantage is the distraction the screen can cause. This is due to all the available features There’s always a strong possibility of distraction when both children and parents opt for this type of reading.

Many children don’t have very high concentration levels, and often have very little attention span. Because of this, it’s best for a child not to read on a screen, as it’s an activity that requires a high level of concentration.

Reading on paper

The tradition of reading on paper, despite the inclusion of new technologies, has not been lost. This is contrary to what different studies and research predicted.

Children are a reflection of their parents’ words and also the actions they carry out on a daily basis. For this reason, if they see their parents reading books in a traditional format – as there’s a sector of the adult world that isn’t familiar with the world of digital literacy – then they’ll also want to read on paper.

The same is true if you have bookcases at home or if you go to public libraries as a family and use them.

Although the use of tablets and other electronic devices, such as interactive whiteboards, is being developed and implemented in schools, textbooks haven’t disappeared from the classroom. Teachers mostly continue to use books in their traditional format.

Following what we mentioned earlier, a book in a traditional format is a much more suitable option for children with concentration and attention problems. The reason being that they won’t have anything else to distract them.

Is it better to read on paper or on a screen?

After dealing with the fundamental aspects of either reading on paper or on a screen, you must then evaluate which option is more suitable for each individual child.

However (and this is the most important aspect of all), children should always be encouraged to read and to acquire this habit in their lives. This is regardless of the medium or format they use for this.

There will always be children who will continue to opt for paper and there’ll be others who’ll decide to take advantage of the ease of using new technologies. Both options are acceptable if the end result is that children become lovers of reading, and, as a result, culture.

In addition, it’s a good idea for all possible sectors, parents, IT professionals, and teachers to transmit their love of reading and books through specific recommendations.

There are many different themes and varieties of books. Each child can choose what he or she likes best and, in this way, be able to enjoy some special moments with a great book.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Merga, M. K., & Mat Roni, S. (2017). The influence of access to eReaders, computers and mobile phones on children’s book reading frequency. Computers and Education.
  • Cencerrado Malmierca, L. M., Pelosi, S., & Yuste Tuero, E. (2018). Recomendar contenidos digitales para niños y jóvenes: reflexiones, herramientas y criterios. Palabra Clave (La Plata).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.