Has the bedtime story lost its place in the digital world?

Do you still read your child a bedtime story? Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019

Do you still read your child a bedtime story? Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2019 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A Suffolk librarian has explained the importance of the bedtime story as research reveals that more than half of parents in the east of England are swapping books with technology when reading to their child.

With most aspects of life making a move online, it is no surprise to see that technology is also being incorporated into the bedtime story - and in some cases even replacing it.

New research by BookTrust, the UK's largest children's reading charity, reveals that 54% of parents in the East of England are swapping books for technology when reading a bedtime story - using home assistants, Facetime and voice notes as shortcuts.

Horrid Henry children's book author, Francesca Simon, is calling on parents to ditch technology and rediscover the bedtime story - and Suffolk Libraries is behind the movement.

Krystal Vittles, head of service delivery at Suffolk Libraries, said: "This isn't about demonising technology as it has its place when it comes to helping children learn. However, this must be done in moderation and it's about understanding the right time and place for tech."

The study also revealed that more than 50% of parents in the east of England give their children time on smartphones, YouTube, tablets and TV before sleeping. While just over a quarter of parents actually manage to read their children a bedtime story.

Krystal added: "While tech can be useful, it's not ideal at bedtime due to the levels of blue light which is emitted and can disrupt the release of melatonin which helps children, and adults, sleep well. Poor sleep has a knock-on effect on the childs development and the wellbeing of the adult."

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The data revealed by BookTrust shows that there is a growing reliance on digital storytelling and that children may miss out on the proven benefits of bedtime stories.

"Books at bedtime isn't just about reading and learning," said Krystal. "It's a vital part of the family bonding journey and it's a great way for parents/carers/grandparents to nurture their bond with the child and show them that they are important as the adult is giving them undivided attention.

"Reading at night can be a great way to gently embed learning for children as books have repetition and this can build a child's confidence when it comes to using language."

The study also revealed that 25% of parents who read bedtime stories to their children use either a smartphone, tablet, app or Youtube for the task, and that 43% of children aged 10 or younger now own a tablet.

Do you think that technology should replace the bedtime story? Share your views with us in the comments below.

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