As parents, we have probably noticed the trend in recent years of increasing numbers of children and teens reading books and magazines on their cell phones, with the use of free Nook reading apps for Android and other apps for iPhones.
Do you have the same guilt I do? There is a worry that reading off of such a small screen will damage their eyes or that they will become addicted to screens and lack social skills.
Well forget the guilt. Here are some of the most common concerns that parents have about mobile reading and why they have nothing to worry about.
Is It Bad For Children’s Health?
A study on Marketwatch found that prolonged staring at a smartphone screen does damage the eyes, but no more so than reading a regular book or using any electronic device. The study claims that the real danger which is causing children to damage their eyes is holding the phone screen too close to their eyes.
It is recommended that parents encourage children not to hold their phones too close to their eyes and to take regular breaks away from their phones to prevent their eyes from becoming too strained. Don’t forget that reading apps also have functions to increase the font size and screen contrast which will make reading more comfortable on the eyes.
There is also a worry that extended use of electronic devices will affect children’s sleep patterns and make it hard for them to study or concentrate in school. Multiple health organizations including the NHS say that the light of an electronic screen affects young people’s sleep patterns.
It is advised that they should avoid using any electronics right before they go to sleep, perhaps an hour or so before they go to bed. Don’t forget also to keep their cell phones away from the bed so that they are not tempted to use them during the night. (We all know how tempting it is to stay up late reading a great book!)
Can Children Download Inappropriate Material?
This is a huge concern for me, thankfully there are tons of ways to keep children safe from inappropriate material.
All smartphones come with child safety features or downloadable parental control apps to ensure that children aren’t seeing anything they shouldn’t, with instructions on websites such as PC Advisor to talk you through the steps.
The Nook app allows multiple profiles to be created on the same account so that parents can have complete control over and monitor their children’s account and see what books they are downloading without interfering with their reading too much.
Does It Count as Reading Time?
Reading off of a phone might appear to be ‘screen time’ rather than ‘reading time’. But have no guilt! It is only the reading format which has changed, not the books themselves and as proven above, there are no health dangers to reading off of a phone screen.
Mobile reading doesn’t discourage reading time between parents and younger children either. Nook’s interactive picture books are designed for parents and children to read together, while also encouraging children to read on their own and not miss out on story time if their parents can’t be there.
Reading apps are designed with the health, safety, and enjoyment of younger readers in mind. Reading habits might have changed over time but children’s love of good literature hasn’t gone away. So long as parents are keeping an eye on how long their children are using their phones and that they are using them safely, they have no need to worry and can be encouraged that their children are enjoying lots of great books.
What are your favorite reading apps for smartphones? I’d love to add more to my kids’ devices.