According to a recent study by Common Sense Media, the number of babies and toddlers using mobile devices regularly has spiked pretty significantly in the last year or so. In fact, a survey of 1,463 parents found that 38 percent of kids under 2 have used a mobile device for media in some way—a figure that's up 10 percent from last year.
While experts seemed to be pretty alarmed by that stat, it probably isn't a huge shocker for anyone with a baby or toddler at home. (Just leave a kid in the same room as a smartphone or an iPad, and you'll see why.) But even so, it's not sitting well with experts who strongly advise against early screen time.
Speaking with HuffPost Live about the study, Common Sense Media founder and CEO Jim Steyer admitted that he found the stat disconcerting—especially when the American Academy of Pediatrics has been warning parents against screen time for kids that young for years.
"The reason is there's clear evidence about some of the potentially damaging effects on development," Steyer said. "And also there's no evidence that any learning happens via media up until the age of 2."
Steyer's also concerned about the all-too-real implications that tablets and other mobile devices are "shut-up toys," i.e., easy-to-reach distractions for kids when mom and dad are otherwise occupied.
Some other eye-opening findings from the study? The average daily minutes a child soaks up on a mobile device tripled in the last two years—from five minutes to 15 minutes. The number of families with kids 8 and under who own a tablet also shot up five-fold since 2011, jumping from 8 percent to 40 percent. But the time we stick our kids in front of a TV? Well that at least seems to have dipped a bit. Kids 8 and under watch TV about 12 minutes less than they did in 2011, and watch DVDs about 9 minutes less.
Still, the AAP's advice that we keep our kids away from screens in those all-too-precious developmental years is worth paying attention to.
"This world is here, this is upon us. This is truly the digital revolution," Steyer said. "We all have to take this very seriously."
Do you ever let your baby or toddler play with your phone or tablet? Does this study change your mind in any way?