BOOKS
10/14/2014 11:29 am ET

Are Ebooks Good Or Bad For Learning?

Since the advent of ebooks, a debate has raged as to whether the traditional, physical book or the digital copy leads to better learning for children.

In a HuffPost Live conversation Monday, a roundtable panel agreed both formats have advantages, but there is one key to making either successful: interaction.

"In many cases, with the traditional book, you go beyond the covers of the book to discuss the story," Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, a psychology professor at Temple University, told host Nancy Redd. "In 'Curious George,' you might say something like, 'Do you remember the last time that we were at a zoo?' There seemed to be something in that interaction with parents and children that was very different than with the digital book versus the traditional book."

Heather Kirkorian, who helps run a cognitive development lab at the University of Wisconsin, said she has had similar experiences, but has seen positive results with ebooks. They just have to be used correctly.

We do find toddlers learn more from the screen when they're interacting in a very specific way, not just any way," Kirkorian said. "Really focusing on the device and what the device can afford is not as productive of a conversation as 'How can we use this tool?' This tool is in our lives, in kids' hands, how can we use that tool and create media content that's actually beneficial if possible and more importantly to scaffold the kinds of interactions Kathy just described."

Watch the rest of the clip above, and catch the full HuffPost Live conversation here.

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