The three books all came from the "Little Critter" series by Mercer Mayer and had similar length and reading difficulty.
The researchers found differences in non-verbal communication from both parents and children when interacting with a tablet, Munzer said.
"Children used tablet books more solitary or independent, which prevented parents from viewing or easily accessing the book and made it more difficult for parents to communicate with their children," Munzer said.
Both the children and their parents also tried to control the experience while reading with a tablet. Instead of working together, they would move away from each other or move the tablet away. Children could also try taking the tablet.
"These behaviors can interfere with involvement back and forth between parents and children," Munzer said.
The results were published on 30 September in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.
Pediatricians often emphasize the beneficial aspects of reading with the child, including better language development and more positive social interactions, said Dr. David Fagan, vice president of pediatrics at Cohen Children 's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, New York.
These results show that "in the 21st century we pediatricians need to think about technology in terms of reading," Fagan said. "We can't assume that reading with your child is like sharing a book.
"It seems that tablets are perceived by children as solitary devices that can be controlled by them, and their use in shared reading can promote negative interactions," Fagan continued. "Therefore, the message to parents about reading should emphasize the use of traditional books, and if parents choose to read on a tablet with their child they should be aware of the behaviors described in this study."
Dr. Michael Grosso, medical director and president of pediatrics at the Huntington Hospital of Northwell Health in Huntington, New York, said that "further studies of this kind are clearly guaranteed".
Grosso recalled a science fiction story by Isaac Asimov while reading this study.
"The author described an advanced technology that included a user interface that allowed modulating the flow of information from the device using nothing but eye and mind control," said Grosso. "The author was describing, of course, a book. Books – and parents who read to children – are as precious to children as they have never been."
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SOURCES: Tiffany Munzer, M.D., colleague, behavioral developmental pediatrics, C.S. Mott Children 's Hospital of the University of Michigan; David Fagan, M.D., vice president, pediatrics, Cohen Children 's Medical Center, New Hyde Park, New York .; Michael Grosso, M.D., Chief Medical Officer and chair, pediatrics, Huntington Hospital of Northwell Health, Huntington, New York .; September 30, 2019,JAMA Pediatrics
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