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Tech users are getting younger to a degree that even researchers are surprised. Polls and studies are showing that kids as young as 6 months old are given smartphones and tablets to look at and swipe.
Of the nearly 400 parents with young kids who visited a community clinic in Philadelphia, a poll found that 52 percent of the children ages 6 months to 4 years old had watched TV on a mobile device, 36 percent had scrolled around on the screen, 15 percent regularly used apps and 12 percent played video games. At least 25 percent had actually called someone.
That poll, which was presented to the American Academy of Pediatrics conference over the weekend, and others found that kids are using tech at younger and higher rates than previously. Despite AAP recommendations for no screen time for kids under 2, parents are apparently doubling down.
By the age of 2, most kids whose parents took part in the 20-question survey used cellphones and tablets regularly.
"We didn't expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months," said Hilda Kabali, a third-year resident at Einstein who led the survey. "Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes."
There's good reason to keep kids off screens. Other research has found that it changes the way the brain is wired and also impacts interpersonal communications. As a Washington Post article on the small screen survey points out, a study last year found that tweens who did not have access to digital devices at a 5-day outdoor camp immediately showed better abilities to tune into nonverbal cues about someone else's emotions.
But for parents, especially of the very young, these devices can buy precious time for showers or an uninterrupted conversation at the very doctor's office where they are being surveyed.