Parents choose 'screen time' over reading to their child

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Parents spend nearly four times as much time looking at screens each day than they do reading with their children, according to a new survey.

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Children from Reay Primary School in Lambeth with their Time to Read packs

The poll of 2,000 parents of four to- 11-year-olds by Booktrust, the UK’s largest reading charity, finds that on average mums and dads spend over 1.5 hours engaging in screen time every day, compared to just 25 minutes reading with their children.

Half of parents confessed to either frequently skipping pages when reading with children, finishing the story before the end, or refusing to read a second book. Of those who admitted to skipping pages, half did so because they were too tired.

Almost a fifth of parents blamed their lack of shared family reading on long working hours.

The survey also found that reading is not perceived as a fun activity to engage in together throughout the day, with over half of parents saying they are more inclined to restrict reading to the bedtime routine. Despite this, more than eight in ten (81 per cent) acknowledged that their child enjoys being read to, and nearly three-quarters said their child loves to share stories together.

Booktrust, along with television presenters Dermot O’Leary, Alex Jones and Mel Giedroyc, are calling on parents and carers across the country to get involved in the charity’s annual Time to Read campaign and take part in its National Time to Read Challenge, which runs this week (18-22 September).

This involves asking parents to free up ten minutes a day to share a story, swapping screen time for storytime. To get involved on social media use #TimetoRead.

As part of the campaign, every reception-age child in England, more than700,000, will also receive a Time to Read pack containing a copy of Nadia Shireen’s picture book The Bumblebear.

Lauren Child, the Waterstones Children Laureate, said, ‘Reading aloud with your child at any age is a wonderful way of connecting because you see what excites them and interests them, and it’s also a way of understanding what’s going inside their head. And it’s letting them know by example that books are a good thing, creating a habit of reading and a special bond. It’s also a lovely way of winding down at the end of a day for both parent and child.’

Dermot O’Leary said, ‘Those moments when my niece and I share a book, letting our imaginations run wild, are pure bliss. Although it can be a struggle to find those magical moments, it is mega important that we all find the time to read with the children in our lives, helping them unlock the joys of reading. I totally support BookTrust’s National Time to Read challenge and will be swapping social media for storytime.’

  •  For more information about the Time to Read Challenge click here 
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