The Best Stories for Young Kids
Before the advent of TVs, phones that could play videos and games, and movies anyone could access anytime and anywhere, parents were fond of planning their kids’ bedtime around reading stories. It is not uncommon to hear a little kid say, “I want Horton Hears a who!” But is it also the same for the kid’s brain when they watch the animated books as when they hear them being read by a parent or caregiver?
According to Dr. John Sutton, the author of a research publication on the effect of screen time on children’s brains, the explosion of audio-visual media today is causing a significant transformation of childhood experiences from what they used to be to unlimited consumption of tv/videos available via different devices which are difficult to supervise. He also said that digital media use is developing quickly, and it is difficult to measure the effects.
The research showed that changes occur in the child’s brain depending on what they hear or read. It shows that there is a certain type of story for young kids. They compared this to the Goldilocks effect, in which researchers described certain media as too “hot,” some too “cold,” and some were “just right.”
Twenty-seven 4-year-old kids were assessed through MRI imaging for the four types of simulations to determine which format provoked the most positive connections for language, visual imagery, and learning.
The first was strictly audio format. The audio was seen as too “cold,” The connectivity was low due to how the kid’s brains were being tasked.
The second was a visually based animation. The animation was “too hot,” with loads of activity in the audio and visual portions of the brain but not too much connectivity.
The third was a storybook with images. It was “just right” as the brain performed scaffolding, where the images played a role in making the words make sense. The storybook helped them develop strength for reviving those images back to life. These are connections we should nurture.
The Levels of Media
The research showed that “too hot” animations resulted in a piece of drab information that was too fast to process comprehensively. Dr. Hutton fears that this media type does not grow into enough connections. The “too cold” media allowed for too much work on the brain concerning processing the language with no images to help understand and connect. The “just right” storybook with simple images caused the kid’s brain to adapt the images as a scaffold for the words, resulting in connections. Also, a variable that wasn’t put to the test but displayed a significant effect was the scenario when an adult reads a story to a small child, usually with some human connections like sitting in a lap.
This research has some critical implications for educators of little kids. Reading to students can form convincing connections for their small brains that will be advantageous as they get older. Science shows that carefully selecting stories that allow for the most scaffolding is the best way to build comprehension skills for little kids.