Tech-savvy parents prefer print over e-books for kids, PEW reports

Alexis Nicholson, 9, reads a printed book at the 2013 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

You want your kids to learn and you know reading books is undeniably good for them. Electronic screens are, generally speaking, bad. Game consoles, television sets: You feel your kids’ brains dying with each hour they spend in front of them. But what about those cool-looking tablets? And that iPad commercial with kids reading from apps?

The overwhelming majority of parents (94%) still think reading printed books to their kids is important, according to a new survey out Tuesday from the Pew Research Center. And they believe this even though parents as a group actually tend to be more tech-savvy, own more tablet computers and read more e-books than non-parents do.

The Pew study concludes that “as parents adopt new reading habits for themselves on electronic devices, the data show that print books remain important when it comes to their children.”


This latest study echoes the results of earlier Pew surveys of American reading and parenting habits. Last year, a Pew study found that parents preferred printed books over e-books for reading to their children by a factor of 9 to 1.

In a survey of the results, Pew analyst Kathryn Zickuhr said focus groups show some parents “want their children to have the same pleasant book-reading experience they remember from when they themselves were children.”

“My parents were real big on [the library]. It was a treat for us, twice a week after church,” one parent said. “You behave, you [get] to go to the library and get a book, get two books if you’re real good, read them that week and bring them back.”

Beyond nostalgia, reading a printed book yourself when in the company of your children sets an example for your kids, another parent told Pew.

“I’m reading like a book [on a tablet] and my children don’t know if I’m reading a book or if I’m playing on Twitter, so I think it’s important to have the book so that they go, ‘Oh, Dad’s reading’ . . . not just, ‘Oh he’s updating his Facebook page.’ I think there is like a difference in that.”



New Bridget Jones will be ‘Mad About the Boy’

‘Nothin’ but Blues Skies’ tells Rust Belt stories

George Packer chronicles American boom and bust in ‘The Unwinding’