A new study from the child advocacy group Common Sense Media shows that children’s use of mobile gadgets like tablets and smartphones has exploded in the last two years. The biannual survey indicated an 89% increase in the number of children eight years and younger who have used a mobile device, which grew from 38% in 2011 to 72% by 2013.
It’s also been reported that the amount of time children spend with their devices has tripled from five to 15 minutes. This news comes just as doctors are now warning that too much screen time could be bad for kids.
According to the Wall Street Journal, on Monday the American Academy of Pediatrics reiterated cautions against children’s exposure to screens, saying parents should limit the total amount of time children use screens for entertainment to less than one to two hours per day and “discourage screen media exposure” in general to kids under the age of two.
The evolution of tablet computers seems to be changing the equation for families at home as these devices start to replace TVs, storybooks and babysitters said Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media’s founder. “One-year-olds are now walking up to TV screens and swiping them because they think they are tablets,” he said. “They are becoming a part of childhood in ways that were almost inconceivable before.”
So what do kids do on their mobile devices? 63% play games, 50% use apps and 47% watch videos, reports the study.
Steyer recommends that parents set more stringent limits. “No question about it, the best brain development happens when you speak with kids and play blocks with them and cuddle – all the experiences where there is no intermediation by technology,” he said.
Infographic by Common Sense Media