A new study shows that nearly all 4-year-old American toddlers from low-income, urban, and non-white families have learned how to use smartphones and tablets when they are just old enough talk and walk. In fact, most children start tapping and swiping mobile device screens before their first birthday. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics and researchers at the Albert Einstein Medical Center, in Philadelphia, conducted the study.
Data was collected from the parents of 350 children between 6 months old and 4 years old. They completed the survey awaiting to see health care providers.
Survey results showed that nearly all households owned televisions (97 percent). However, tablet (83 percent) and smartphone (77 percent) ownership was also high.
Dr. Matilde Irigoyen is head of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She explained that the researchers also wanted to learn about how often toddlers use mobile devices, and when they start to use them.
Some findings surprised them. By 4 years old, half of the kids owned their own TVs, and three-quarters owned their own mobile device. The tablet was the most popular one, with two-thirds of 4-year-old preschoolers owning units such as iPads or Galaxy Notes.
In addition, by the age of 3 or 4, half of the kids could use mobile gadgets without any help, according to CBS News. They were also fast learners.
Most toddlers started to use mobile devices before their first birthday. Parents gave them the gadget to use and keep.
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is the executive director of Digital Health at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She explained that parents should check if mobile apps actually help their children. For example, Apple’s iTunes Store offers about one million apps for kids under 8 years old, while 100,000 are labeled as “educational.”
The study also showed that 28 percent of parents used a mobile device to put their kids to sleep, according to 13WMAZ. Swanson explained that giving kids mobile devices at bedtime could cause problems. This is when they should be following routines such as reading, singing, and family time.