The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discourages the use of entertainment media such as televisions, computers, smartphones and tablets by children under two years of age. But, a new study has revealed that more than one-third of babies are tapping on smartphones and tablets even before they learn to walk or talk, and by one year of age, one in seven toddlers is using devices for at least an hour a day.
Researchers developed a 20-item survey to find out when young children are first exposed to mobile media and how they use smartphones. Parents of children aged six-months to four-years-old were recruited to fill out the survey. Results from 370 parents showed that 74% were African-American, 14% were Hispanic and 13% had less than a high school education. Media devices were ubiquitous, with 97% having TVs, 83% having tablets, 77% having smartphones and 59% having Internet access.
Children younger than one-year of age were exposed to media devices in surprisingly large numbers- 52% had watched TV shows, 36% had touched or scrolled a screen, 24% had called someone, 15% used apps and 12% played video games. By two-years of age, most children were using mobile devices. Results also showed 73% of parents let their children play with mobile devices while doing household chores, 60% while running errands, 65% to calm a child and 29% to put a child to sleep. Time spent on devices increased with age, with 26% of two-year-olds and 38% of four-year-olds using devices for at least an hour a day. Finally, only 30% of parents said their child's pediatrician had discussed media use with them.
Lead author Hilda Kabali said, "We did not expect children were using the devices from the age of six months and some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes."
The study was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego