Childrearing

38 Percent Of Children Under Two Use Mobile Media And My Kid Was One Of Them

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147398207__1382982925_142.196.156.251If you would have asked me before I became a parent if I planned on letting my kid watch YouTube videos on my $400 phone, I would have said oh, hell no. Flash-forward three years, and I don’t bat an eye at the idea. According to a new report, two out of five children have used a tablet before they could speak in full sentences.

The study found that mobile-device use among very young children is growing rapidly, especially compared to other mediums. Television viewership remained stable, with 66% of children under 2 watching in both 2011 and 2013. Computer use grew from 4% to 10% over the two years, but DVD viewership actually declined, from 52% in 2011 to 46% in 2013.

I don’t have a tablet, I have an iPhone – but my 3-year-old is very proficient at navigating it. He’s not using the phone as a chew-toy, or blankly observing it – he knows how to unlock the screen, find the apps he likes, and use them. By observing his use, I’ve even learned a few things about my phone. I had no idea you could swipe the home screen of an iPhone to the side for a quick search. I never knew you could adjust the size of a YouTube video on a mobile app. He knows how to “favorite” videos and knows how to look in the history to re-watch things he likes.

We only let him use the phone certain times of the day for a few minutes at a time. He gets it for longer periods of time if we are in a restaurant because it entertains him enough for us to easily get through a meal. He watches alphabet and number songs – but he also loves Gangnam Style for some reason I can’t quite grasp and he finds dancing videos totally entertaining.

I generally don’t think this is a big deal – but I may need to revisit that. I read an article today that cites a study from 2010 that found U.S. children aged 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours daily using some kind of entertainment media. Seven hours daily? In 2010? It could only have gotten worse, right?

I guess it all comes down to making sure you are keeping track of the time your children spend in front of a screen. I just can’t believe that having a child made me totally change my mind about what is acceptable.

(photo: Getty Images)