Findings of a new research have revealed that babies are now far more exposed to mobile technology than ever before as more than a third of very young children were found to be tapping on tablets and smartphones before they can even walk or talk.
In a new survey that aims to determine when young children first get exposed to mobile media and how they use these devices, Hilda Kabali, from Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, and colleagues involved more than 300 parents, who were mostly from urban and low-income minority community and who were asked about their children's usage of mobile devices.
The researchers found that by age one, over a third of the babies had already touched the screen of a mobile device. By age two, more than half of the youngsters already touched screen, watched a show on the device, called someone, used an app or played video games.
More than a quarter of 2-year olds were also found to be using mobile devices for an hour per day. The researchers said that they were surprised with the findings that show how young children start using mobile devices.
"We didn't expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months," Kabali said. "Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes."
The study likewise showed that parents used the devices to entertain and calm their children while they were busy. Among the participants, 73 percent gave phone to their kids while they do chores at homes while 60 percent said that their children played with tablets or smartphone while they do errands.
Below a third of the parents used the devices for putting their children to sleep and two thirds of them used the devices for calming their kids.
Experts warned that this habit may have harmful effects on a child's development regardless of the promises of learning apps. The British government, for instance, has warned in 2013 that spending too much time on screen could lead to emotional problems in children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has likewise discouraged the use of screen devices until age 2.
The same harmful effects have also been observed among older children. A 2014 study has found that preteens who spent five days without their digital devices at an outdoor camp showed improved ability in reading nonverbal emotion cues.
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