Parents Are Allowing Their Toddlers Way Too Much Screen Time

Apr 25, 2015 at 2:59 AM ET

It’s official: Babies spend too much time on mobile devices. In a recent study, researchers asked 370 low-income parents when, exactly, their toddlers began to play with mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. The findings are unsettling.

Nearly 15 percent of one-year-olds are using mobile devices for at least an hour per day, the researchers report, and many toddlers learn to play games and swipe for their favorite shows, long before they can even walk or talk. And 73 percent of parents admit to handing their antsy toddler a smartphone so they could catch up on housework.

The American Academy of Pediatrics officially recommends against exposing children to mobile devices until they are at least two years old and, after that, limiting screen time to fewer than two hours per day. That’s partially due to prior studies that suggest young children may be harmed by minute quantities of microwave radiation given off by cell phones. Despite these concerns, however, only 30 percent of parents say their pediatricians told them about the potential dangers of over-exposure to mobile devices at a young age.

Mobile devices have been around for a while, but apps, tablets and smartphones only recently broke into the Pre-K market. In 2011, a paltry 16 percent of children under eight years old were using mobile apps; by 2013, that number had skyrocketed to 50 percent.

Widespread exposure to mobile screens at such a young age, coupled with excessive screen time, has some physicians quite concerned. “We didn’t expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months,” Dr. Hilda Kabali, a resident in the Pediatrics Department at Einstein Healthcare Network, said in a prepared statement. “Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes.”

Read More:

Forget TV! iPhones and iPads Dazzle Babies (CNN)
A Mobile Heart Monitor For The Rest Of Us (Vocativ)