Social media addiction is nothing new–yet it’s still pretty shocking to learn that 96% of kids start using mobile devices before the age of 1.
According to TODAY, a new study found that toddlers and preschoolers enjoy watching their own TV by the time they are 4 years old, with three-quarters already using their own mobile devices by that time as well. It is important to note that the study was done in a pediatric clinic in Philadelphia, which included only 250 children, so the findings are limited–but it’s not hard to look around and see the proof in the pudding (i.e. our very own homes).
Dr. Hilda Kabali of Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia stated in the report that most children used a tablet while their parents were doing chores:
“At age 4, one-half of the children had their own television and nearly three-fourths their own mobile device. The most popular device was a tablet, owned by two-thirds of 4-year-olds. Almost all children (96.6 percent) used mobile devices, and most started using before age 1.
Parents gave children devices when doing house chores (70 percent), to keep them calm (65 percent), and at bedtime (29 percent). Most 3- and 4-year-olds used devices without help, and one-third engaged in media multitasking. Content delivery applications such as YouTube and Netflix were popular.”
Even still, a national survey by Common Sense Media found 72% of kids up to 8 years old used mobile devices in 2013, a rise from 38% in 2011.
So, what’s a parent to do? While there are still no absolutes, as these devices are relatively new, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting screen time (no big surprise there), but also encourages parents to allow usage since it is part of daily life.
As with everything, we encourage all parents to make their own choices, since they know their kids best. But it does seem like moderation may be key here, especially if kids are too young to understand what they’re looking at.