People who read are more empathetic toward others than those who watch TV, according to new research. So don't forget those bedtime stories!

By Melissa Willets
Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

As if we needed more evidence that reading benefits us, new research finds that bookworms are kinder people than TV binge-watchers.

Researchers from Kingston University in London looked at 123 adults' self-reported preferences on books and television. Study author Rose Turner and her team found that book-lovers tended to care more about helping other people. Meanwhile, the TV aficionados were less empathetic toward others, and came across as less friendly! Hmm, must be a result of watching all those gritty and gory Netflix shows!

Turner explained the study's implications, saying, "Reading is a universal pastime and we regularly hear about parents being encouraged to read to their children from a young age to help introduce them to language and develop their vocabulary. This study demonstrates that the different ways that people engage with fiction can impact their emotional intelligence and empathic behaviors."

In other words, there can be no doubt that reading to and with our kids can have a positive impact on their interpersonal skills, in addition to our own.

But why is reading more beneficial to people's empathy than Netflix and chilling? Turner says, "When we read we go by what is simply written on the page and we have to fill in the gaps as we go along, giving us a chance to develop empathic skills as we try to understand what a character is going through. Whereas when we watch something, we are provided with a lot of that information already."

So it seems kids can develop the ability to think for themselves and about others from books better than via screens. Another reason to limit screen time, and hit the library!

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.


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