Digital Bookbug: Digital is Everywhere

Digital is everywhere, and it’s changing the way we live our lives, interact with our families, and even read our books. According to a recent Ofcom report, family ownership of touchscreens increased from just 7% in 2011, to 71% in 2014, and it’s now estimated that 99.7% of families have at least one touchscreen in their home.

The world of digital can be confusing, and the information available to parents and carers is often conflicting. The supposed negative impacts of ‘screen time’ are widely reported in the press, with the media frequently referring to digital addiction and shortened attention spans. Despite this, 74% of parents strongly agree or agree that it is important for their child to learn to use technology from an early age to get on at school (according to a National Literacy Trust survey).

Over the past few years the publishing industry has undergone huge changes as a result of the impact of digital advances in technology. This hasn’t necessarily impacted upon printed children’s book sales, which have soared over the past few years, increasing by over 11% in 2016 (the biggest increase in over a decade).

We need to make sure quality digital content is available for parents and children to use together

However, e-books for children haven’t really taken off in this new digital age. Tom Bonnick, Digital Manager at Nosy Crow, reported that percentage growth in e-book sales for children is still ‘very tiny numbers’, and he’s uncertain that it will take off any time soon. Part of the problem is that developing apps for children is a costly affair, and not many publishers are willing to take the risk. But we need to make sure quality digital content is available for parents and children to use together, to help share reading, songs and rhymes on screens too.

With this in mind, we are excited to announce the development of a new digital strand to the Bookbug programme to help provide families and practitioners with the opportunity to become more digitally confident and to share elements of our programme more widely.

We're recruiting parents, carers and practitioners to form an advisory group to test ideas

Last month we sent out a digital survey to our followers asking for your advice and opinions on our new digital project. The feedback we received will be vital in helping us shape the digital future of Bookbug. We are now looking to recruit parents, carers and practitioners from a variety of backgrounds to form a virtual advisory group to test ideas and provide input at key stages of the project.  If you would like to get involved, please send us an email.

For now, keep an eye on the Bookbug blog to keep up to date with our digital developments. We look forward to sharing our thoughts on digital safety, recommend great digital apps for little ones, and highlight key research in the field of digital technologies and child development. In the meantime, there’s nothing that can replace the simple pleasure of curling up with your little one and sharing a story together - no technology needed!

Ruth Grindley

Ruth Grindley is Early Years Digital Projects Manager at Scottish Book Trust.