Study Shows Spike in Toddlers’ Use of Tablets, Smartphones

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBC Bay Area

    A new study finds that young children’s use of smartphones and tablets has almost doubled over the past two years.

    Lots of kids on Santa's "good list" this year got phones, tablets and other electronic gadgets for Christmas.

    They've joined an increasingly growing number of kids glued to their mobile devices, including those still in diapers.

    Common Sense Media, a San Francisco based nonprofit group, recently found a giant leap in the number of young children with access to mobile devices.

    Within the past two years, the percentage of kids under age 9 who've used smartphones and tablets soared from 38 percent to 72 percent. More than a third of those kids are under the age of 2.

    According to their 2013 report, Common Sense Media found that 75 percent of all kids in America have easy access to mobile devices at home.

    “You have all sorts of toddlers and young kids from 0 to 5 walking up to screens - TV screens - and trying to swipe them, thinking that they're a tablet or a smartphone,” said James Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media.

    In fact, companies are beginning to tailor electronics to be child-friendly. Some tablets are now designed for tiny hands and there is even an infant bouncy seat outfitted for an iPad.

    However, parents are worried that their kids are getting too attached to the smartphones. The key, as Common Sense Media says, is setting a good example.

    "If you're glued to your phone or your computer or your iPad, and you're not paying attention to your kids, they will do the same thing,” Steyer said. “They will watch your behavior.”

    Kids won't watch as much of what's on the screen, if parents reinforce interaction with the three-dimensional world.

    “One thing research has shown is that smartphone users’ interpretation of how long they’re staring at their phone instead of their kids is grossly underestimated,” Common Sense Media senior editor Sierra Filucci said in an article on the group’s website. “It might feel like 20 seconds, but really three minutes have passed—long enough for younger kids to get into trouble and for older kids to feel neglected.”

    Common Sense Media suggests that parents set aside a specific amount of time for kids to play on their cell phones and tablets. They also encourage parents to not use their phone when their kids are around.