Parenting trend: Audiobooks over screen time for kids

Posted on August 13th, 2019

Rather than allowing endless hours of screen time, parents are embracing the digital age with audiobooks for kids instead. Here’s why this trend is great. By Tammy Jacks

Parenting trend: Audiobooks over screen time for kids

According to recent statistics by Pinterest, “audio storytellers” are up 126% in 2019. And if you do a quick search for audiobooks for kids on the social network, you’ll see hundreds of narrated audiobook suggestions for kids. These range in length from longer stories to quick short-stories, stories for road trips and bedtime, and much more. You’ll also find a host of educational apps loaded with audiobook suggestions linked to themes such as animals, sharing or kindness, to name a few.

For parents, audiobooks offer a good compromise for screen time because they still offer a distraction mechanism for little ones. Your child can listen to a story while you finish cooking dinner. However, they are more engaging than simply staring at a screen.

ALSO SEE: Why is screen time such a big deal? 

The benefits of audiobooks

When children (from as young as age 2) listen to a story via an audiobook, they’re learning to listen attentively, rather than simply hearing something,” says lecturer, teacher and education expert, Simone Tonkin. “Listening is different from hearing in the sense that hearing involves perceiving sound by the ear, while listening to something like a story via an audiobook involves more understanding. It’s something you choose to do and respond to,” she adds.

Simone says audiobooks have the following benefits for kids:

  • They help to develop proper listening skills, which are critical for all aspects of learning.
  • They teach children to pay attention to detail.
  • They help to build a child’s memory skills – especially if they listen to the story more than once.
  • They stimulate the imagination and encourage visualisation skills.
  • Audiobooks build a child’s vocabulary- especially as they listen to how words are used in context.
  • They offer a two-way engagement, rather than a one-way engagement with a screen.
  • The best way for older children to listen to audiobooks is with a hard copy of the book in-hand. “Research shows that when good reading is modelled to a child, who can follow along on the page, they read better than when they simply listen to themselves reading,” explains Simone. “So, if a child can recognise the words on the page as they listen to the story, that’s first prize!”
  • If you’re sitting with your child listening to the story, you can also pause the story and ask your child questions about what she’s heard. This will help make it even more engaging and will encourage your child to listen and understand more effectively.

The importance of story telling

As language therapist and author of Baby Talk, Dr Sally Ward, explains, it’s never too early to start telling your little one stories. From the time your baby is born, she’ll learn to recognise your voice and respond to different tones in your voice, as well as how you express things. It’s how she’ll learn to make sense of the world.

From about the age of 6 to 9 months, you can start introducing picture books and colour books to your child’s toybox. You can also build story time in your little one’s bedtime routine. Then, as her language and listening skills develop, as well as her attention span, you can slowly introduce audiobooks, starting with short stories, and gradually building up the length of the story over time.

ALSO SEE: The benefits of reading to your baby

Audiobook resources

Here are a few places you can download or purchase audiobooks for your children:

Local:

e-Library

While this service isn’t free, e-Library offers free access to all materials, including a wide range of audiobooks for children, for a month, after you subscribe.

You can access all digital content in the library via your tablet, smartphone or PC.

Raru

Online retail store, Raru, has a library of over 1000 audiobooks for kids, arranged in age-appropriate sections.

Most of these audiobooks are available in CD/audio version and will take 3 to 7 days to be delivered.

Audioshelf 

Download the Audioshelf app and you’ll have access to purchase and download 11 audiobooks for your children. After registering, you can shop through the app immediately and download.

Available for IOS and Android.

Readers Warehouse

Retail stores such as Readers Warehouse have a wide range of audiobook collections such as the Famous Five or Roald Dahl, which you can purchase in-store or online.

International:

Epic

Hailed as the leading digital library for kids 12 and under, Epic boasts thousands of audiobooks and learning videos for kids in age-appropriate categories, with the aim of making books more accessible to kids. There’s also a wide variety of fictional and non-fictional stories, including topics such as animals and cars.

This app also allows access to educational videos and quizzes for older kids.

Download the Epic app, register and get started. There’s also the chance to join free for 30 days.

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About Tammy Jacks

Tammy is a wife, mom and freelance writer with 15 years’ experience in the media industry. She specialises in general lifestyle topics related to health, wellness and parenting. Tammy has a passion for fitness and the great outdoors. If she’s not running around after her daughter, you’ll find her off the beaten track, running, hiking or riding her bike.