The stories we read to our children often include pictures. This is not something circumstantial or random, the illustrations are used to attract the child to the story, help them understand it and even, sometimes, they can understand the story without the need for any text.
But did you know that they are better for children than video? A study shows that picture stories are better for children's brains than cartoons.
A study carried out at the Cincinatti Children's Hospital (USA) led by pediatrician and researcher Dr John Hutton stated that picture books stimulate children's brains more than cartoons or videos.
An educational video or an audiobook may seem like perfect options to entertain children and they are certainly not bad, but these researchers say that it is better to read them an illustrated story. Let's see why.
The researchers in this study presented a group of preschool children (none of them could read yet) three different story formats: audio, animated video, and illustrated story, and analyzed what was happening in their brains with each of them. they.
They summarize the impact on what they call "the Goldilocks effect":
- With the audio story: It seemed that the children had to make more effort to understand the story well and keep abreast of what was happening, since language is not yet their forte.
- In the illustrated story: there was a good and balanced integration between visual stimuli and language stimuli. They all seemed to cooperate much more.
- In the video: it was as if everything fell apart, there was no effort on the part of the child
The study revealed that in those cases where mothers involved their children in reading,greater amount of brain activity was generated, especially in areas related to language.
If the child has a picture that illustrates a story, he already has something to start with and then his imagination and creativity will do the rest. These experts propose that parents interact as they read to their children so that this moment is more important for their development, especially in preschool age. They can ask them questions or go back to remembering what happened a few pages ago.
In early childhood, children's brain networks are developing and to reinforce those connections, they need practice. If children have the opportunity to practice using their own imagination, they are stimulating their brain and their ability to learn. As they become readers, they can use that learning to create images in their minds if the book does not incorporate them.
Children who have excessive exposure to animated content, whether on television cartoons, tablets or mobile phones, as they grow up may underdevelop these connections in the brain and will not look for stories or books that generate emotions or sensations, but rather they will become comfortable and sometimes addicted to having video content that does everything for them: it shows the image and gives them the information.
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