Egmont Finds Families Prefer Print

Most parents and children prefer reading print books rather than stories on screen, according to a new study by Egmont Publishing, titled Print Matters.

April 6, 2018

Egmont Finds Families Prefer Print

Research shows print books create positive, calming effects and enable closeness between parent and child.

Most parents and children prefer reading print books rather than stories on screen, according to a new study by Egmont Publishing, titled Print Matters.

The new research, completed in conjunction with Family Kids and Youth and the University of Sussex’ Children and Technology Lab, was established to explore the questions:

  • "Why do eBook sales for children’s books remain modest and in decline whilst print sales continue to grow?”
    • "Does print offer children and families something beyond the story itself?”
      • “Do parents and children respond differently to reading and being read to in print and from a digital device?”

        During the study, researchers observed that print books enable closer physical contact between a parent and child–ultimately reinforcing emotional bonds. Print books also enable better eye contact between the parent and child, which provides a better sense of connection.

        On the other hand, this was not observed while reading from a device, which is fundamentally a “head down” experience with both parent and child focused on the screen and sound coming from the device.

        Additionally, researchers used Galvanic Skin Response to measure arousal, or the physical reaction to reading. There was a slightly higher response to digital than print, which could be positive: more excitement,

        anticipation, or “buzz,” or negative: a sign of frustration and adrenaline. The physical response also reduced over time and, as arousal dropped, showed signs of positive engagement go up.

        Video analysis also showed the calming effect of reading a print book, as well as both the warmth and positivity levels increasing as both parent and child got into the story. In contrast, when reading an eBook, the analysis showed that emotional warmth dropped over time.

        “Print is preferred for reading together and eBooks and book apps work well for the child’s solo use. Our understanding of why print resonates with children and parents has deepened. For parents, reading to their children is nothing less than an expression of love. It’s fun, deeply reassuring for children, calming and bonding–and its time off screen,” says Alison David, director, consumer insight, Egmont Publishing. “And why is print loved by children? Apart from enjoying basking in parents’ attention, the hugs and reassurance when being read to, there is an important part about the physicality of a book and a magazine: collecting, owning and sorting is a key part of child development.”

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