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Study finds that nearly 100 percent of preschoolers are using mobile devices

It used to be that we would put our kids in front of the TV when we needed to get things done, but with the plethora of smartphones and tablets, it’s no surprise that most toddlers and preschoolers have shown a growing interest for those devices as well.

A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics online edition shows that nearly 50 percent of  kids under the age of one are using a mobile device for 20 minutes per day, and nearly 80 percent by the time they reach two years old.

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As to when parents allow their children to use mobile devices, 70 percent say they do so when a child does their chores, 65 percent to keep their child calm in public places, 58 percent to run errands, and 28 percent to put their child to sleep.

The study was conducted at one urban pediatric clinic in Philadelphia from October through November 2014. It involved 350 children from six months to four years old. 97 percent of the children in the study used a mobile device, with the tablet being the most popular.

The researchers do note that this narrow study doesn’t necessarily represent the whole country, but it does reveal some interesting trends.

Since this survey was done in a low-income clinic, it shows that the digital divide is shrinking. Compared to 2013 nationwide surveys, the low-income community showed a significant increase in the use of mobile devices. A major reason for this could be decreased costs as tablets and smartphones have dramatically dropped in price over the past two years.

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The plus side to this is that these mobile devices could make kids more prepared for school, but on the other hand, it was found that most parents in low-income areas need help in selecting media content. While there are a ton of educational apps available, many of these kids end up watching videos from YouTube and Netflix.

The Journal concluded that this study does not address how the child and family are impacted by the use of these mobile devices, and future studies are needed to assist health care providers and families on the best way for children to use them.