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Screen-time vs reading to your child #TimeToRead

BookTrust released a new survey in Sept 2017, to coincide with the very good idea of #TimetoRead, finding that:

“… UK mums and dads are spending nearly four times the amount of time (over 1.5 hours) engaging in screen time each day than they are reading with their children (25 mins).” I don’t know what the questions were so I don’t know how significant this is. It obviously sounds major, but I think 25 minutes of reading with your child is EXCELLENT and I am not in the slightest bit surprised that parents spend so much more time on screens, as screens dominate our lives. Does this mean leisure, or work, or domestic tasks, or time with their children? I don’t know.
“The poll studied 2,000 parents of 4-11 year olds revealing that half of parents confess to either frequently skipping pages when reading with children, finishing reading the story before the end or refusing to read a second story. Of those who admit to skipping pages, half (49%) did so because they were too tired.” *cough* I did that way before smartphones and social media came along. And tiredness is a fixed state for parents.

BookTrust are calling on parents and carers across the country to take part in the charity’s National Time to Read challenge (18-22 September) to free up ten minutes a day to share a story.

How about more than ten minutes? I’d be more ambitious. I think ten minutes would be annoying. How about half an hour, the whole family, with all electronic devices switched off? Since parents are already doing 25 minutes, that’s not a big ask…

The survey, commissioned by OnePoll on behalf of BookTrust polled 2,000 parents of 4-11 years olds in England, Northern Ireland and Wales whose child/children live at home 50% of the time. Additional findings include:

  • Almost a fifth of parents (18%) blame their lack of shared family reading on long working hours.
    • Twas ever thus
  • Reading is not perceived as a fun activity to engage in together throughout the day, with over half of parents (54%) saying they are more inclined to restrict reading to the bedtime routine.
    • That’s OK. I don’t think it’s a “fun activity” either. I do think it’s a “lovely thing to do” but if I were asked if I thought reading were a fun activity to do with my child, I’d probably say no. Sometimes it is, with the right age of child, but otherwise I’d describe it as interesting, meaningful, valuable, wonderful, but not specifically fun. I don’t want fun from the books I read.
  • More than eight in ten (81%) parents acknowledge their child very much enjoys when they are read to by mum and dad, and nearly three quarters (73%) saying their child loves to share stories together.
    • Excellent.
  • When asked how they would choose to spend extra free time, 44% of parents say they would like to spend more talking and playing with their children compared to only 16% who say they would use this time to read together.
    • That’s OK. Talking and playing with your child are extremely valuable things. And I say that as someone who fully understands the need for reading, too. But I’d put talking and playing first for younger children, because that develops language, which is essential for reading, and I’d also put it first with older children, as you’re not likely to be reading with them anyway.

I think #TimetoRead is an excellent idea. I support it wholeheartedly. But I’d be more ambitious and I wouldn’t worry too much about one this survey at all.

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