Just under 100% of UK families own at least one touchscreen device, and 97.5% own multiple such devices – some of those families as many as 14 tablets or smartphones. So it’s not too surprising that the same study at the University of London found that more than half of the UK’s littlest citizens (6-11 month-olds) use a touchscreen device on a daily basis (for nearly 9 min./day), and 92% of its 1-3 year-olds do (for about 45 min./day).
Are you seeing what I’m seeing, fellow parents? “Touchscreen devices are a common part of a toddler’s media environment,” The TABLET Project‘s researchers write. Even babies using touchscreens is commonplace.
Question the advice for parents
Which says something about advice parents have been getting: “The current recommendations for zero screen time for children under 2 years is out of line with the reality of the current home media environment of most toddlers,” the authors write. They even add that any advice to keep toddlers and screens apart is “difficult to enforce by parents who themselves are conducting more of their lives through such devices.”
So parents feeling all the reported guilt and anxiety about this odd, ill-defined concept of (undifferentiated) “screentime” might consider giving themselves a little more slack. They’re in good company. Besides, “most children do plenty of activities every day that don’t involve screens,” a recent article published in MosaicScience.com and ScientificAmerican.com cited developmental psychologist Ed Tronick as saying. “He is concerned that the worries about kids’ use of screens is born out of an ‘oppressive ideology that demands that parents should always be interacting with their child’.”
But what about the impact this touchscreen time is having on our littlest kids, you might ask? “Our results did not show any evidence for negative associations between touchscreen use and developmental milestones,” the TABLET Project researchers report, and “empirical evidence relating early touchscreen use in toddlerhood to delays in cognitive development is currently lacking.”
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