“Alexa read the kids a bedtime story.” Sound familiar?
Reading children a story before bed is almost a parenting rite of passage, but new research has revealed that more than a quarter of parents are relying on Alexa and other technology to do the job for them.
Charity BookTrust surveyed 1,000 parents with children under-10 to find out whether pre-bed reading was still a key part of the daily routine, and discovered that time-poor parents are turning to digital assistants instead.
While almost half of mums and dads (49%) aim to read a story every night, only 28% said they managed to find the time to share a story with their youngsters every evening.
Just under a third of parents blame work or commuting for story skipping, while one in five claim they simply felt "too busy".
Two thirds of the parents polled admitted giving their kids time in front of a screen instead of sharing a story.
Twenty-six-percent of parents have relied on digital assistants like Alexa to take on the role of storyteller, and more than half use a phone or tablet - or an app such as YouTube.
Francesca Simon, best-selling author of the Horrid Henry series, said that reading a bedtime story is “one of the best experiences a child and parent can share, and something tech cannot replace.”
“The many evenings I spent immersed in books with my son, Joshua, until he was 11, not only inspired me to become a children's author, but are also some of our best shared memories and gave my son the confidence, curiosity and thirst for learning that has set him up for life,” she said.
BookTrust Director Gemma Malley acknowledged that parents are finding it more difficult to fit bedtime stories into their busy schedules, but claimed it could be an important aspect of child development.
“I know from experience that it can be tempting to replace reading to your child with time on a device, but swapping books for tech can have profound consequences,” she said.
“However, just ten minutes of reading a book together a day makes such a difference – it helps build children's language, resilience, confidence and imagination and is an amazing way for families to bond.”
The charity is holding a “Pyjamarama” fundraiser on June 7, asking people to pay £1 to wear their pyjamas all day and celebrate bedtime stories.