Infants Already Glued to Multiple Screens
Ever sit around watching TV, while scanning your smartphone or tablet? It's called 'second screening.' And apparently the instinct to multitask kicks in early—because even infants are doing it these days. So says a new survey presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, in San Diego. [Hilda Kabali et al, First Exposure and Use of Mobile Media in Young Children]
Researchers surveyed 370 parents at a hospital in urban Philadelphia. Nearly every household had a TV; more than three quarters had smartphones and tablets. According to the parents, infants just six months old were already logging half an hour a day on mobile devices. And they were not just watching cartoons. A third were swiping and tapping the screens; and a quarter of the babies were actually making calls—although probably by accident. By age two, nearly all the kids were reported to be using tablets and smartphones—sometimes while glued to the TV.
Question is, is that a bad thing? The American Academy of Pediatrics says yes. Their take is, kids under two shouldn't be staring at screens at all—because they'll learn more slowly from screens than from interacting with people.
But the researchers behind this new survey say the effect of smartphones and tablets on young brains isn't that clear—it is new technology, after all. And their agnosticism about mobile technology was perhaps best reflected on the last page of the survey, where they invited survey takers to enter a raffle—to win an iPad.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]