Research: Children using phones and tablets leads to academic problems later in life
This is the brain of a preschooler who likely spends an average of two hours a day playing on screens. The blue in this image shows massive underdevelopment and disorganization of white matter in the same areas needed to support learning in school.
The above quote is from an article [click here for article] citing new research on brain development. The certain conclusion is that children need time interacting and reading, not time on a phone or tablet. In fact, screen time leads to learning deficits! The above image shows massive damage from just two hours per day. But the average child 0-8 spends 2 hours 19 minutes per day on a screen! [click here for article]
Many busy parents use tablets to keep kids busy, and that's understandable. No one says parents have to play with their kids all day, every day--research shows it's "quality, not quantity" [click for article about this]. But this article suggests that fostering independent, creative play and a love of reading might be a better option for keeping Johnny busy while you are making dinner.
As you can read in the article, children who read books often scored higher than average on cognitive tests, whereas children who spent merely one hour on a screen scored lower than average on the same tests.
Best of all, the evidence shows that there's no pressure to read "heavy stuff"! It doesn't matter what kids read, as long as they read. Sports, fantasy, whatever--it's all just as beneficial.
I spent some time at an education graduate school before I finished my graduate degree in family therapy. One thing that stuck was when I learned that most kids fall behind in reading not because of learning disabilities, but because they never learned to love reading. So give kids fun things to read. Even graphic novels.
Children who learn to love reading early don't love "reading," they love what they are reading about. Dragons, motorcycles, folk tales, basketball stars. Every kid is different. But when kids read to learn something interesting, they read for content. Then, later, when they have to read something for school, they may not like the subject (content), but they can understand it, without getting hung up on the act of reading.
This goes on throughout life. Would you like to know what keeps most kids out of medical school? It's the "main idea" reading questions on the medical colleges admissions test (MCAT). Reading for content! There's a lot of focus on "STEM," but it's clear from this research that our next generation of genius doctors will be good readers.