Mummy Buzz


STUDY: 6-Month-Old Babies Using Smartphones & Tablets

...and more alarming screen time stats


Tablets and mobile devices are everywhere you look - including in the teensy hands of toddlers and babies, according to new research from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Despite the AAP's firm guidelines discouraging media use in children under the age of two, a survey revealed that more than one-third of infants were using tech before they could walk and talk.

And by their first birthday, one in seven had access to at least an hour of screen time per day.

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The "Zero to Eight" Common Sense Media survey tracked media use in U.S. children aged between six months and four years old, predominantly from low-income or minority communities.

Out of the 370 parents involved, there was no shortage of access to media devices. The majority owned TVs, tablets and smartphones --  and babies were using them in frankly alarming numbers. 

Before they even reached their first big milestone year, "52 percent had watched TV shows, 36 percent had touched or scrolled a screen, 24 percent had called someone, 15 percent used apps and 12 percent played video games."

By two, tots spent an increasing amount of time on devices. And by four, 38 percent were on devices for at least an hour a day.

The results shocked even the researchers. 

"We didn't expect children were using the devices from the age of six months," said lead author Hilda Kabali, MD, a third-year resident in the Pediatrics Department at Einstein Healthcare Network. "Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes."

How and when the devices were used was also telling. Tech is convenient. It's all too tempting to pass the smartphone to quell or busy your child when you're in a bind.

And in many cases, devices were being used as 'electronic babysitters,' allowing surveyed parents to get chores and errands done. Others handed over the device to calm a child, or even help put them to sleep.

Only 30 percent of the parents surveyed had discussed media use with their child's doctor, highlighting the need for more awareness. Many new parents take a pediatricians advice about feeding and sleep as gospel.

So it's high time media use formed part of that basic education.