Tablets ‘help disadvantaged children with literacy’

National Literacy Trust's survey suggests touch-screen technology could be key in helping boys read more books


Tablets could encourage disadvantaged children to read for longer, according to a National Literacy Trust study.

The charity's research, conducted with educational publisher Pearson, found that touch-screen technology had a beneficial impact on two groups associated with low amounts of reading: children from poor families and boys.

Thirty per cent of poor children read on a tablet for longer than on printed paper, compared to 17 per cent of rich children, according to the Literacy Trust's study of 1,012 children aged three to five.

Meanwhile, twice as many boys as girls read stories on a touch-screen for longer than they did on printed paper, found the study, finding this was the case for 24 per cent of boys and just 12 per cent of girls.

Pearson's director of UK policy, Julie McCulloch, said: "A child's background still makes far too much difference, in 21st century Britain, to how literate they are.

"Children from more advantaged backgrounds read more often, and enjoy reading more. Their parents are more confident in their ability to support their children's reading.

"These statistics, and others in this report, make sobering reading. But the report also contains some fascinating, and heartening, glimpses into how technology is helping to eat away at these entrenched disadvantages, inspiring and enabling children from all backgrounds to access high quality stories and to develop a love of reading."

E-readers and tablets are now more common items in households thanks to their increasing affordability, found the study.

It cited Ofcom's 2014 survey showing that tablet use among five to 15-year-olds has increased from 42 per cent to 62 per cent between 2013 and 2014, adding that its own analysis showed 30 per cent of children used e-readers in 2013.

And 43 per cent of children from poorer backgrounds use tablets for educational reasons rather than for entertainment purposes, compared to just over a third of better off children, the report found.

It concluded: "Touch-screen technology has the potential to positively influence the reading behaviour of children of lower socioeconomic status and boys."

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