Parents of toddlers will be well aware of the valuable downtime afforded by handing their tablet to their little one to play with.
It’s perhaps unsurprising then that we have seen the rise of the “iTod” – but still the rate of growth of toddler tablet adoption is startling.
A recent survey in the UK shows that half of UK toddlers aged two to three years old are regularly using iPads and tablets.
The poll, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of the children’s app range Justin’s World, questioned 1,000 parents who had children aged between two and six.
Among tech-savvy toddlers, 61 per cent of three-year-olds and 38 per cent of two-year-olds are playing and learning on tablets. The survey found this increases to 66 per cent of children aged between four and six.
AVG first spotted this trend in the second stage of its Digital Diaries campaign in early 2011 when we surveyed 2,200 adults in 10 countries across the world and found that many toddlers were learning computer skills before life skills.
2011 was early in the days of tablet adoption and before the mammoth growth in apps, but the signs were already there of the impact that technology was having on childhoods.
In that survey we found that twice as many kids aged two-five years old (19%) could open a smartphone app as tie their shoe laces (11%). It is hardly surprising therefore that today’s toddlers have already earned the monicker “iTods”. But should we be worried?
While there are undeniable educational benefits from toddlers playing on tablet apps there are also some pitfalls with too much screen time. The majority of two-year-olds who use a tablet spend one hour a week on it, rising to one hour a day for three-year-olds, says the survey.
Toddlers are, according to their parents, spending the majority of their tablet time playing educational or entertainment games, while the second most popular activity is watching children’s television programmes.
While it is amazing to watch how quickly your two-year-old grasps the intuitive technology, our findings two years ago pointed out that this would likely be to the detriment of some traditional life skills, like tying a shoelace or learning to swim.
Back then, we teamed up with two experts in child development and their advice still rings true today. Jason Brand and Rona Renner said it is a good idea for parents to consider setting boundaries and time limits on screen time. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two have no screen time, and after age two they suggest limiting it to an hour or two per day.
So the advice is to make a plan with your toddler about how much screen time they are allowed and then the hardest thing is – stick to it. But don’t beat yourself up if doesn’t appear to working as you would have liked, just review and start again.