Raising a child of the 21st century means exposing your baby to a curated, mediated, postmodern experience. Poking at an iPad is the new banging on pots and chewing a blanket.
According to a new study commissioned by Common Sense Media, 38 percent of kids under age 2 are using tablets or smartphones before they can even string together a sentence. This is up from 10 percent in 2011.
Common Sense Media’s study examines the media habits of children up to 8 years old in the U.S. This year’s study follows a similar one from 2011. The group found that children are using media devices like tablets five times more than they were just two years ago. Smartphone use has jumped from 52 percent to 75 percent. The average time that each child spends on smart mobile devices has tripled, though time spent with “traditional” devices (like TV) is down by half an hour a day.
But what do these numbers mean? Which way should we wield our judgment? Well, it’s very nuanced. It all has to do with passive and active screen time for kids under two. If kids are ready to zone out in front of a screen, it delays their language development. But active communication on programs like Skype actually might help with language development. It also can lead to confusion about The Way Things Work.
The director of U.S. pressure group Common Sense Media, Jim Steyer, said:
Kids that cannot even talk will walk up to a TV screen and try to swipe it like an iPad or an iPhone.
Technology advances, but babies remain clueless.