We're Letting Our 6-Month-Olds Use Smartphones

Study: 14% of kids under one using mobile devices at least an hour a day
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2015 4:54 PM CDT
We're Letting Our 6-Month-Olds Use Smartphones
Yeah, she's probably not one yet.   (Shutterstock)

It's no surprise that America is letting its young use smartphones and tablets, but a new study reveals just how young is young. The answer: before our kids can "walk or talk," as a press release puts it. Philadelphia researchers surveyed 370 parents during a two-month period in fall 2014 at a pediatric clinic "that serves an urban, low income, minority community," they write. The parents had kids between the ages of 6 months and 4 years, and most owned tablets (83%) and/or smartphones (77%). When researchers asked, "How old was your child when he/she did these activities on a mobile media device?" here's what they found among the "under one year" category:

  • 52% had watched TV
  • 36% had touched or scrolled a screen
  • 24% had called someone
  • 15% had used apps
  • 12% had played video games

"We didn't expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months," says lead author Hilda Kabali, and "some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes." In fact, by the age of one year, 14% of kids logged usage of at least an hour a day. Further, the survey responses indicate "most children are using [mobile devices] by age two years," though Time points to the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that kids under two not have exposure. Why is it happening? The researchers did ask when the children used the devices, and got these answers: while running errands (60%), while the parent was doing chores (73%), when the child needed to be calmed (65%), and to put the child to sleep (29%). The findings were presented Saturday at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. (A recent study warns against handing your toddler an iPad.)

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