If you are like me, you tend to think that screen time is the enemy of reading. After all, digital media can be pretty addicting, for adults as well as kids. It can be hard for books to compete with lights and sounds and moving pictures.
However, I think there can be room in most kids’ lives for both books and screens. We live in a world where it’s nearly impossible to get rid of all digital media. In my view, we need to find a happy medium.
But finding that balance is not what we’re here to talk about. What I want to tell you is that digital media and book are closer friends than you realize.
I can’t speak for every family, but I’ve noticed some surprising ways that movies, videos, electronic games have caused our family to occasionally read more than we would have otherwise.
Yes. You read that right. Digital media has made my kids read books they might otherwise never have picked up!
But that doesn’t mean I’m always excited about it. For instance, a few years ago, my husband bought the Xbox Lego Lord of the Rings game for our son. I was horrified. I was certain it would ruin the book for him. He would never want to read it after playing the game; it gives away most of the storyline after all! Yet my son–not my biggest reader at the time–proceeded to beg to read Lord of the Rings for himself. At age nine. This is a kid who previously only read picture books and graphic novels begging to read a book which I normally would recommend for high schoolers and up because of the complexity of language and plot. One year later, and it’s his favorite book ever. But that interest began with a video game.
My daughter, on the other hand, is a huge reader, but she primarily reads fiction. I had tried to get her interested in reading a missionary biography a while back, but she didn’t bite. That is until we started watching some animated missionary biographies by Torchbearers (free for Amazon Prime members). After a couple of episodes, I suggested the biography again, and she devoured it in less than twenty-four hours!
But maybe this shouldn’t surprise me. After all, in high school, we watched (instead of reading) Pride and Prejudice (yes, the amazing BBC version) and The Scarlet Pimpernel, both of which I made sure to read for myself after loving the movies.
And how many of us have been inspired to read a book either before a big movie comes out or because we loved a movie or TV series based on a book? I know I have more than once.
So make friends with your TV (and maybe even gaming system). It can be your ally more often than you might think.
Has digital media ever inspired your kids to read a book?
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Ellie Mae says
As a mom of 4 as well, I don’t agree that we need to make friends with the TV and video game system in order for kids to enjoy reading! We read books, and then occasionally (as a reward) see the movie/show after we’ve read the books, that seems to work for us. In my experience, the more a child spends on a screen toy/device, the more it isolates them from family and stimulates the wrong part of the brain; the part that wants easy and quick rewards. Reading is an activity that requires time, patience, focus and stamina….all things that the screen toys work directly against. A child can be harmed by too much screen time, but no child is ever harmed by too little or no screen time. And, a child is never harmed by book reading! Any time a child is playing on a screen they are not reading! Science also tells us that screen reading comprehension is significantly less than if done on a paper book. As a child gets older, and peer pressure gets stronger reading of any kind will take a “backseat” to the screen time. Just my thoughts as young moms start to ponder this issue with their little ones. I do think this is a helpful website to promote reading, imagination and childhood.
Hi Ellie Mae, I’m certainly not saying that kids need video games or TV to enjoy books, and I’m not saying that kids should not have limits on screen time. My kids certainly have pretty strict limits. What I’m trying to say is that, for good or ill, digital media is here. We can make it our enemy (which at times can make it seem more enticing to our children), or we can find ways to make it our ally. Screen time limits are something each family must sort out for themselves. But, just maybe, when we do turn on our devices, we can use them to entice our kids right back to books. 🙂
Thea Rosenburg says
Okay, I promptly went looking for Torchlighters–and I found it on JellyTelly as well as Amazon Prime! Huzzah! We’ll be watching that soon 🙂
And I think you make an excellent point, Carolyn. I love the idea of encouraging our kids’ momentum towards books whether that momentum comes from a library shelf or a video game. It’s good to be reminded that books and other media don’t have mutually exclusive.
PS: That last paragraph of your bio makes me really, really happy 🙂
Thanks, Théa! It makes me really excited too!! 🙂