While there’s no denying that children are growing up in a very different world to the one Baby Boomers did, alarming new research has revealed just how entrenched modern technology is in the lives of today’s kids.
A US study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, found screen time has more than doubled for children under two years old since the mid 1990s.
Additionally the researchers said that, despite fears about mobile devices increasing kids’ exposure to screens, they actually found young children under six spent most of their screen time watching TV instead.
The study, which used diary data collected in 1997 and 2014, showed that US kids under two went from watching an average of 1.32 hours of screen time daily in 1997 to 3.05 hours daily by 2014.
For children aged three to five however, screen time averaged 2.5 hours in 1997 and did not change significantly by 2014 – with most of that time spent watching TV.
The findings follow research released last month that found too much screen time can lead to personal and educational delays.
A study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, found greater amounts of screen time from ages two to three were associated with significantly poorer performance when their development was assessed at ages three and five.
The US study also follows a survey, released by comparison website Finder.com.au last December, that found 17 per cent of Australian children aged 12 and under currently own a smartphone. This is the equivalent of 690,000 Australian children using mobile phones.
The survey of 2,005 parents found the main reasons they gave their children a phone at such a young age were because they had a spare device handy (20 per cent), they were needing to contact their child throughout the day (20 per cent) and for when they child is travelling to and from school by themselves (19 per cent).
It also found that 14 per cent of parents gave their children a phone because they kept asking for one or were using their own device, 10 per cent gave them a phone so they could play games, 7 per cent because all their friends had one, while another 7 per cent provided their kid with a smartphone when they started high school.
Meanwhile, the research found the average age children receive their first smartphone is seven, but some children as young as four are using their own device. Parents who haven’t yet given their kids a device said 13 was the appropriate age.