Touch Screen Devices Increasingly Used By Children Of All Ages
October 28, 2013

Touch Screen Devices Increasingly Used By Children Of All Ages

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Though the statistic certainly won’t surprise anyone who’s visited a school, playground or even family restaurant in the past three years, one new study claims more young children are using smartphones and tablets for longer periods of time.

This discovery represents the inevitable shift in culture and technology as tech-savvy kids adapt to grow into a society that’s more and more being presented on a touch screen. According to the study, conducted by Common Sense Media, 38 percent of children under age two have experience with mobile media and have used these devices to play a game or watch a video.

This number skyrockets to 72 percent by the time the child reaches age eight. The number of minutes these children use mobile media has increased as well. In 2011, children were spending an average of 15 minutes a day on these devices. Now, young children spend nearly two hours consuming media on a mobile device. As these kids spend more time in front of an iPad or on an iPhone, they’re TV-watching time is also decreasing. Children are still watching television shows, of course — now they’re watching them on tablets instead of actual televisions.

"This is the true sign that the digital generation has arrived," explained Jim Steyer, Common Sense Media’s CEO and founder in an interview with Mashable. "We're seeing a fundamental change in the way kids consume media. Kids that can't even talk will walk up to a TV screen and try to swipe it like an iPad or an iPhone."

While previously it may have been true these kids were using their parents’ mobile devices, Common Sense Media says more parents are giving their kids their own smartphones and tablets.

In 2011, eight percent of families with children between the ages of zero and eight owned a tablet device. Today, 40 percent of these families own a tablet, and children are nearly as likely to own a tablet as their parents are.

Though it may come as no surprise, the majority of these children are using these mobile devices to play games.

In 2011, 33 percent of children had used an iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch or similar device to play games. In 2013, the number jumped to 63 percent. This same increase is found in every activity performed on a tablet. For instance, the percentage of children who used a mobile device to watch television increased from eleven percent in 2011 to 38 percent in 2013. In 2011, four percent of children under eight used a mobile device to read a book. This number jumped to 30 percent in 2013.

The survey also notes some of the most common apps downloaded by children at different ages. Angry Birds remains popular from ten months to eight years, while more creative and building games start to appear around age six.

Though the study shows children are quite aware of apps and know how to download them, parents aren’t always pleased by this.

Last year a group of parents were given the chance to file a class action lawsuit against Apple after their children ran up obscene iTunes bills after downloading currency and other items used in their iOS games. Parents who used their password to download even a free game for their child often unknowingly left their iTunes account wide open for their children to buy anything without needing to input the password a second time. In the case of one British child, this led to bills as high as $2,500 in as little as ten minutes.