October 21, 2019
Those concerned about the ever-increasing use of electronic devices, particularly among young children, may find the latest research from Common Sense Media troubling.
In a large national study of children ages 0 to 8 years, the results showed that 42% of children in the study had their own tablet device, compared to just 1% in 201l. Moreover the findings, reported in eSchool News, found the amount of time kids spend with mobile devices has spiked from 5 minutes in 201l to 48 minutes in 2017.
Narrowing the Tech Gap
While these increases are stunning, the study also found that the high-speed internet gap has decreased significantly between higher- and lower-income families (from 50 to 22 percentage points). Greater access is considered important for leveling the playing field and providing experiences to children who might otherwise be at a disadvantage when it comes to educational and job opportunities that require tech know-how.
In a statement acknowledging the complexity of technology’s growing access and usage among young children, Common Sense Media founder and CEO stated the following:
Over the last six years, we have seen massive growth in media use and tablet ownership, and we haven’t even begun to experience the explosion of new technologies like virtual reality and voice-activated assistants in our homes. If we want to ensure our kids develop well and are successful in life, we have to make sure they get the most out of tech while protecting them from potential risks–and that means paying close attention to the role media is playing in their lives.
Guidelines for Parents
For those seeking guidelines managing their child’s tech use, the American Academy of Pediatrics released updated recommendations last year. Following are the highlights:
- Children younger than 18 months: avoid screen time other than video chatting.
- Ages 18 to 24 months: If you want to introduce digital media, choose high-quality programing and watch with your child to ensure they understand what they’re seeing.
- Ages 2 to 5 years: limit screen time to one hour per day of high-quality programs. View together.
- Ages 6 and older: enforce consistent limits on screen time. Make sure media use does not interfere with sleep, physical activity, and other healthy behaviors.