The number of parents reading books to their children at bedtime is in rapid decline – as iPads and laptops take over, a study has revealed. A survey of 2,000 parents found seven in ten now use tablets, computers or even iPhone apps to soothe their children or settle them at the end of the day.
Nearly half of those questioned in the study said they read less traditional books to their children than were read to them as a child.
But parents are noticing a rejuvenation of the bedtime story tradition, and more than half felt that tablets were making the process more engaging.
Nearly half stated that tablets are becoming an increasing part of the night time routine with sound effects, moving images and the ability to interact with stories transforming the bedtime story.
The research, which was commissioned by LifeProof, found that seven in ten parents feel their children are brighter because of early exposure to technology.
Nearly a third of parents with two or more children said they had noticed a difference in the development of their youngest child in comparison to an older sibling who grew up without technology.
A spokesman for LifeProof, which makes protective covers for gadgets, said:
”Bedtime stories are an important part of a child’s routine, and it’s good to see that tablets are bringing these stories to life even further by encouraging creative interaction between parents and their children.
”It’s also great to see how many parents are using their smartphones and tablets as educational tools – and that even the very youngest members of the family have something to gain from using these devices.
”With over half of parents revealing their children use apps better than they can, the study shows a real trend towards children using gadgets as part of their learning and development.”
The study also found more than half the parents studied allow a child aged three years or younger to use their phone or tablet.
And four in ten parents admit they use their smartphone or tablet as a ‘high-tech babysitter’ to keep their kids entertained.
But while 43% admitted they usually hand over the gadget to get some peace, nine out of ten believed using gadgets to be educational for their kids.
A third of parents notice their child is increasingly interested in their phone and tablet and wants to interact with the technology so they can ‘be like mum and dad’.
And nearly two thirds said their child would very often rather play with their mum or dad’s phone or tablet than play with their own toys.
The average parent hands over a gadget to their kids at least three times a week – simply because they’re exhausted.
While six in ten use time on a smartphone or tablet as a way of rewarding their young ones for good behaviour.
In fact, 75% of parents think the ability to engage with technology is now a crucial part of a child’s development, and it’s clearly working – one in four parents said their young child is already far more adept at using smartphone and tablet technology than them.
Inevitably, the damage toll is high with a fifth of parents having had a phone or tablet broken or screen cracked after handing it to their children.
The most common cause of damage was items being dropped in the house, while spillages and gadgets being lost completely were common.
The average parent has spent £110 in the last year fixing gadgets, while two electrical devices had been broken by kids in the last 12 months alone.
The LifeProof spokesman added:
”Let’s face it broken gadgets are a sure fire way to put an end to family harmony and so ensuring things don’t come to that is important.
”Things don’t always run smoothly and parents are increasingly in need of the reassurance that expensive damages aren’t just a matter of time.”