How young is too young to have a cell phone?
Mobile devices are a part of daily life for most adults, and now, more young children have their own, too.
Most children under the age of 4 have their own mobile device or have had exposure to devices, according to a study published in American Academy of Pediatrics. Seventy-five percent of kids have their own mobile device by the age of 4 .
Researchers surveyed parents of children at an academic medical center in a low-income minority community in Philadelphia for a well or sick visit. Previously it was believed that there was an income based “digital divide” when it came to mobile media device ownership, but the study proved that the gap is shrinking.
However, the more affordable the technology becomes the more screen time children face. Researchers found that almost all of the families had televisions in their homes, most of these households had tablets and smartphones, and more than half of the families owned game consoles and computers.
Researchers also said that almost all of the children had been exposed to mobile devices due to technology in schools, homes and workplaces.
Some additional findings include:
- Starting at 2 years old, children’s ownership of devices exceeded that of owning a television.
- By 4 years old, half of the kids had their own television, while others had their own device.
- Almost half of children under 1 years old used a mobile device every day to play games, watch videos or play apps, and 77 percent of kids under 2 years old participated in these activities.
Doctors worry that having children use technology at a younger age can cause toddlers to pay too much attention to screens and not spend enough time interacting with people.
“We don’t know the long term effects of so much screen time,” says Dr. John Beckerman, pediatrician at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends two hours or less of screen time per day and an establishment of a ‘screen free zone’ for children and teens.”
Dr. Beckerman recommends children under age 2 avoid electronic media as their brains develop rapidly during these first years and they benefit more and learn best by interacting with people as opposed to screens.
Researchers are concerned with the high number of children owning their own mobile device, but said not enough studies have been performed to understand the effects of increased screen time for toddlers.
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