It's interesting times to be a modern parent. The rise of technology has led to a large number of tech-enabled baby products which make all sorts of claims yet the effects of using them are not well studied.
A new study, unveiled in San Diego last week, highlights just how different growing up today really is.
The research found that one-third of babies start using smartphones and tablets before they learn how to walk or talk.
At the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in San Diego last week it was also shown that one in seven toddlers under the age of one use electronic devices for at least one hour per day.
According to the data, which was collected at pediatric clinics around the US, children were exposed to wired devices in “surprisingly large numbers”.
Another interesting finding was that more than half of children younger than one had watched a TV show, 36% had touched or scrolled a screen and nearly one quarter had even made a phone call.
By two years of age, most children had been using mobile devices for some purpose.
“We didn’t expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months,” said Lead author Hilda Kabali, MD, a resident in the Pediatrics Department at Einstein Healthcare Network. “Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes.”
They team also found that 73% of parents let their children play with their mobile devices while doing chores, 60% while running errands, 65% to calm their child and 29% to put a child to sleep.
While using electronic devices as babysitting has been made commonplace once television was in every household, using smartphones to put toddlers to sleep runs counter to research which clearly shows that the bright screens of modern devices disrupt normal sleep patterns.
Given the shockingly high level of use by babies there are likely long-term health and cognitive effects which are unknown at this stage. Expect further research into these areas as the trend continues.