Commentary

Study: One Third Of Babies Use Mobile Devices

The mobile revolution is changing everything -- and I mean everything, including early childhood. This week brought the publication of a new study of mobile device usage by babies and toddlers from the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. Among the study’s fairly disturbing findings was this tidbit: One third of  babies brought to a clinic serving a low-income urban area were using mobile devices before they could walk or talk.

Of the 370 parents surveyed, 83% reported owning tablets, 77% owned smartphones, and 59% had Internet access at home via desktop computers. Fifty-two percent of those kids younger than one year of age had watched TV shows, 36% had used a touchscreen device, and 24% had called someone on the phone. And 15% had used apps, while 12% had played video games.

Some six-months-olds were using mobile devices for up to half an hour a day. In fact, one in seven toddlers in the survey set used a mobile device for at least an hour a day. I think that warrants a “yikes!”

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No surprise, many parents are using mobile devices as babysitters, with 73% letting their kids use them while they’re doing chores, 60% while they’re running errands, and 65% as a way to calm their child.

To put this in context (and as a gentle reminder to you, dear readers): The American Academy of Pediatrics advises that children under the age of two shouldn’t be exposed to any electronic media — including TV, computers, smartphones, and tablets.

Of course, as with so much well-intentioned child-rearing advice, this may be easier said than done, especially as mobile devices can serve as electronic pacifiers during hectic times or long car trips. Still, it’s worthwhile to take note of how much time kids are spending with mobile devices, and try to limit it, or at least break it up with other activities.

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