Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

23 August 2018

United Kingdom: One in Four Children Under Two Has Their Own Tablet, MPs' Report Shows

One in four children under two has their own tablet, MPs' report shows
by Charles Hymas, The Telegraph, 25 June 2018

One in four under the age of two and more than a third of three to five year olds have their own tablet, according to research.

One in four children under age of two have their own tablet, MP's report
shows. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty

Young children should NOT be using tablets and not so
close to their bodies, particularly the sensitive parts.
Toddlers’ use of apps, websites and the internet has exploded to such an extent that the average pre-school child, including under twos, spends more than an hour a day online, rising to two hours or more a day for a third of five to six-year-olds, according to the report compiled for the department of culture.

Tablets are so widely used by toddlers that baby equipment manufacturers have launched special iPad holders to fit onto baby high chairs, car seats and strollers with “a water resistant surface that guards [the iPad] against spills, dribbles and drools.” They are available on Amazon for under £10.

“I am very concerned about screens for babies,” Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner told The Telegraph. “It is deeply depressing and has no place in the baby equipment list.”

According to the review by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, which reports to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, rising internet use among very young children is one of the key trends since its last research six years ago.

Children are also spending more time online and have shifted from shared to personal devices. Babies and toddlers tend to use tablets, largely because other devices require reading or typing abilities.

Young children in the UK are more likely to own a tablet than those in any other EU country, often hand-me-downs from an elder sibling or parent.

Lead author Professor Sonia Livingstone pointed to research by Sheffield University which found pre-school children spent 1hr 19mins a day on a tablet during the week and 1hr 23mins at the weekend.

Under 3s were online more as they did not have nursery or as many organised weekend activities.

More than half of the under twos knew how to swipe, a third knew how to unlock the tablet and take a picture and 28% used gaming apps, rising to 56% of three to five-year olds.

YouTube is the most popular app followed by Cbeebies and Angry Birds. Mainstream games including Minecraft, Temple Run and Candy Crush already feature in under 5s’ top 10 apps.

There were benefits in that more than 40% of families used it to support their children’s learning, play and creativity but there were risks with a tenth of the pre-schoolers having been exposed to content that made their parents feel uncomfortable.

Almost a third of three to four year olds, and 16% of children up to two years old had seen adverts that they had asked their parents about.

One in ten parents said their child had made an in-app purchase by accident and 7% had bought something online without permission.

Professor Livingstone, of the LSE who has advised the government, EU and national organisations on internet safety, said it was imperative social media and gaming firms did more to make the internet child-friendly “or at least not exploitative.”

“My main concern is that the less responsibility industry takes, the more falls to children - and their parents and teachers - to figure out for themselves.

“Faced with an increasingly complex, often opaque and illegible digital environment, the burden on children to anticipate and cope with online risks is often too great.

“Digital media education cannot prepare all children, from any age and from all backgrounds, for some of the risks the internet industry serves up to them.”

Baroness Kidron, founder of 5Rights, an organisation campaigning for children’s rights online, said: “The need for creative play is crucial for child development, specifically for the development of memory and imagination.

"The immersive environments accessed by tablets etc, are designed to be compulsive but ignore a child’s need for independent exploration, physical movement and individual imagination.

“Habits developed before nine require considerable intervention to change. Yet a billion dollar industry intentionally designs digital services to be compulsive and then we reprimand children for being unable to put their devices down. The asymmetry of power is startling.”

Tanya Goodin, founder of Time to Log off, a consultancy that advises schools and parents, said she was horrified by YouTube usage by under 4s: “YouTube is not a safe environment for children this age. Parents need to be better informed about the age limits for the software their children are using.

“Schools are struggling to deal with inappropriate screen use in schools and this is only made harder when children arrive at the school gate at younger and younger ages with their own devices.”

“Unless parents are prepared to sit and monitor everything their children are viewing on tablets at the very youngest ages then it’s completely inappropriate to give them screen-based devices so young.

“It’s unfortunately part of a growing trend towards ‘digital babysitting’ where the child is given a screen to occupy themselves while the parent is busy with something else. We are creating big problems for ourselves as parents and as a society when we do this.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/25/one-four-children-two-has-tablet-mps-report-shows/

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