To get right to the point – no, e-readers are not 100% safe for children, especially the smallest ones. Although e-readers are a far better choice than tablets and other bright screen devices, they still emit very small amounts of EMF (Electromagnetic Fields), which can be harmful to children in development. Also, many e-readers emit blue light, which is harmful to the eyes, again, especially with children.
Luckily, there are e-readers specifically designed for children and will provide many more advantages than any other device that you can possibly offer to your child. In fact, all book lovers will agree that e-readers for children should be widely considered as the best gifts for birthdays (but not too early).
Read on to learn more about the benefits and precautions of giving children e-readers.
What are E-Readers, and how do they work?
E-readers are primarily intended for reading books. They work by downloading the desired books from the e-library and then “scrolling” through the pages on the screen. It is possible to adjust the font size to make reading more enjoyable and add notes. Some e-readers also have dictionaries.
E-readers are the most tempting because they can replace an entire library full of books. Although traditional books have features that e-readers will never be able to replace, the popularity of these devices is constantly growing.
Reasonable price, easy portability, and ease of use are the basic characteristics of an e-book reader. Most e-readers use e-ink, i.e., monochrome screens that faithfully copy paper characteristics. Although they don’t have backlighting, so you can’t read them in the dark, they’re great for reading outside because the sun doesn’t bother them at all. There are also e-readers with a color screen, but they are harder to use in outdoor light.
E-readers have a very economical battery. Depending on how often you use the e-reader, its battery may last several weeks. They are also lighter than tablets, so you can easily hold them in one hand while reading without making you uncomfortable.
Although newer e-readers come with more and more advanced accessories, which makes them more and more similar to tablets, as a rule, e-readers are only good for reading books.
Do E-Readers Emit EMF?
Yes. Like most gadgets, e-readers are battery-powered, can connect to the internet, and will therefore emit EMF. Some more advanced e-readers will have backlit screens and more options than just reading (bringing them closer to tablets than traditional e-readers), and as such, will emit even more EMF.
Bearing that in mind, your child should use more “primitive” e-readers, that is, devices with no LCD screens and no additional functions other than reading books.
What is EMF, and is it harmful?
We have been using electrical devices since World War II and every four years, the electromagnetic field (EMF) that surrounds us quadruples. To date, the EMF field has grown about 100 times around us. A strong electromagnetic field with a cycle of 50 to 60 hertz and bound electromagnetic radiation (EMR) are very harmful to us (to find out more about EMF please read our EMF – Questions and Answers article.)
Prolonged exposure leads to an aggravation of already existing health problems and causes feelings of fatigue, irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, sleep disorders, and emotional instability. More and more individuals are becoming hypersensitive to this radiation and claim to feel the presence of EMF.
Now, imagine how a child in development feels the consequences of EMF radiation! A child’s skull is much thinner than that of a grown person and therefore it is much easier for EMF to penetrate the brain. Also, sleep is incredibly important for children as they use incredibly high amounts of energy daily.
E-readers for children will limit the EMF radiation to a bare minimum and hence be much more susceptible to everyday use (in moderation).
E-Readers and Blue Light
Again, yes. Blue light is ever-present in screens and e-readers do emit blue light. Luckily, traditional non-LCD e-readers are specifically designed to emit as little blue light as possible and are, therefore, the next best choice after physical books. To find out more about Blue light please read our article about Blue Light – Questions and Answers.
Most e-readers have e-ink screens. They are special in that they imitate classic paper and ink, and show exclusively white and black colors and gray tones. As a result, they are as comfortable to read and do not tire the eyes as LCD screens, and because of them, the battery on the e-reader of books lasts for weeks.
E-ink screens have no backlight so you can easily read them on the beach and the sun will not bother you at all. Try using a tablet in the sun. Real torture, isn’t it?
There are several subtypes of e-ink screens, and some of them include:
- Pearl – the most commonly used e-ink screen, offers a high contrast level.
- Triton – the first color e-ink screen, in addition to 16 shades of gray, also has 4086 shades of color.
- Map – shows a much larger range of grayscale, pixel density ranging between 212 and 300.
LCD screens are mostly found on monitors, televisions, and smartphones, but some e-readers also use them.
The advantage of the LCD screen is the rich color display and backlight, which makes the e-reader convenient to read in dark conditions.
The problem is that such screens tire the eyes faster and consume a lot of device battery, and glare makes it difficult to read e-books in daylight.
Naturally, e-readers for kids should be with the e-ink screen to limit the blue light to the minimum. Prolonged exposure to blue light has many negative effects on our organism, most notably – sleeping disorders, dry eye syndrome, eyesight quality degradation, cataract, gaining weight, etc. Kids’ eyes are still incredibly sensitive and they will feel this influence much more.
E-Readers for different child age groups
Absolutely not! Babies and toddlers should avoid looking at any type of screen. It cannot be emphasized enough how fragile and sensitive children under the age of three are.
Besides, children of this age can’t even read so it would be impractical either way. Be that as it may, some parents might want to show their kids what is being read to them and thus put the e-reader (or any device with a screen) in front of a child. This should be strictly prohibited if you want your child to be healthy.
Children aged 3-6
At this age, it is acceptable to start introducing e-readers to children. While three years old is still young, the child will start getting much more interested in things and will want to explore. At this age, the child already speaks and walks, and any form of entertainment is great for them.
It is much better to introduce the e-reader to the child of this age range than any other device, such as a smartphone and tablet. The child will start to comprehend letters, symbols, sentence structures, and much more.
Be that as it may, the time spent behind e-readers should be limited to a maximum of one hour a day. Remember, e-readers still emit blue light and EMF, and longer exposures can be dangerous.
At this time, children will be able to read and e-readers are highly recommended. Besides, living under the bubble is over and kids will find their ways to watch TV, use laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. It is much better to give them the e-reader than any of the other devices.
Plus, some school material might come in digital form nowadays and e-readers will be necessary for their cognitive development. Additionally, the body is slowly getting used to the modern world and small amounts of EMF and blue light will be unnoticeable at this age.
Recommended E-Readers for children
There are e=readers for children on the market that are aimed precisely at children, either because of their more resistant design than conventional e-readers, more attractive colors for a child, or the functionalities adapted to be used by them.
There is also a wide offer in terms of e-readers in terms of protective cases with creative and modern designs that not only protect the e-reader from bumps or scratches but by having images of characters or drawings that they know, help the smaller ones come closer and identify with the e-reader.
For the youngest ones – Nickelodeon Paw Patrol
This amazing e-reader comes with eight stories that can be both read and heard. The audiobook follows the text with fantastic speed for young kids to follow. Mini-games are included, such as matching the pictures with sounds, etc. Cartoon characters engage young kids more. You can find the product here on Amazon.com.
- Suitable for small children.
- Fun and interactive.
- Very affordable.
- Limited use.
For pre-school children – Amazon Kindle Kids
Kindle is arguably the most popular e-reader globally, and this Kids’ edition is what your child needs. It is specifically designed for children so this e-reader will be durable, won’t break easily, is smaller than regular e-books, comes with great colorful designs, and may include similar covers.
This e-reader is for reading only and your children will not drift away playing games while you’re not looking.
- Real e-reader for young ones.
- Can have hundreds of books in storage.
- The battery lasts for days.
- No distractions, just reading.
- It might be confusing to navigate.
For primary school children – Kindle Paperwhite
A regular e-reader that provides everything a schoolboy or a schoolgirl needs. The Kindle Paperwhite comes with an e-ink screen that is visible both day and night, has huge 8GB storage memory, is easy to navigate, can play audiobooks via speakers or headphones, is waterproof and shockproof, etc.
- Real e-reader.
- Suitable for kids.
- Protected enough.
- Will fulfill child’s needs.
- It may be large for kids with small hands.
Why introduce children to E-Readers?
As e-readers are basically books, the reasons why children should use them are plenty! Naming all of them will be impossible and therefore, here are just a few of the main benefits.
- Dictionary – e-readers have dictionaries that will help children with building their vocabulary.
- Indestructible – e-readers for children are specially made to endure drops and physical misuse.
- Everything in one place – no more searching for favorite books in a mess.
- Transportable – great for trips and walks.
- Cheap – e-readers are much cheaper than phones, tablets, and gaming consoles.
- Educational – reading books helps cognitive development and teaches kids many things.
As seen from the above mentioned, e-readers can be extremely beneficial to children when used with care. As a parent, it will be difficult for you to limit your child’s entertainment and “cool” things. But the most important thing is your child’s health.
There are many safe ways of using e-readers from a young age, such as using special glasses that protect from blue light, limiting the use to one-two hours a day, using e-ink screens, turning off the internet when not downloading anything, using e-readers exclusively for reading, and so on.