by Dr. Gregory Gordon
Last week, my wife began her morning with the dreaded iPhone search, certain she had used it and left it in our kitchen. After searching the house for over an hour, she decided to ask our tech-addicted 4-year-old. Sure enough – he had used it and knew exactly where it was. He led my wife to our neighbor’s yard, where her new iPhone had spent the night.
Fortunately, the phone still works great. And while I’m now a big fan of LifeProof cases, I am also hopeful that my wife will begin to use a secure, child proof passcode.
Many people know the uneasy feeling of a lost or misplaced smartphone. This common feeling forces us to recognize the important role these devices have in our lives. Frankly, we are dependent on them.
It is now the norm to find both parents and children passing their time in my office waiting room on a smartphone or tablet PC. Often, children are shockingly “skilled” on these devices. It was this observation that led to our smartphone survey.
This survey was completed on the babyourself.com website by 110 parents of children up to five years old. The survey’s intent was to explore both childrens’ smartphone abilities and how these devices are used within the family. The results provide insight into the smartphone use of today’s children and parents.
Out of all our survey questions, the ability to “scroll through pictures on a smartphone” was acquired at the youngest age. According to our survey, an amazing 67 percent of 5- to 8-month-olds are able to scroll through pictures.
1 year olds
Children seem able to use a touch screen around 12 months old. In our survey, 85 percent of 12- to 16-month-olds can use a touch screen. One hundred percent of children older than 16 months reportedly have the ability to use a touch screen.
Seventy percent of 1-year-olds and 85 percent of children older than 12 months can “swipe to unlock”.
2 year olds
Most children were able to find and start smartphone videos around 2 years old. In our survey, 57 percent of 2-year-olds and 83 percent of 3-year-olds can find and start videos. This is contrasted by only 29 percent of 21- to 24-month-olds who could perform this task.
Two year olds also master the individual devices’ names, like Blackberry or iPhone. Sixty-seven percent of 2-year-olds surveyed could say the device’s name verses only 42% of 21- to 24-month-olds.
3 year olds
Several smartphone tasks were mastered by our 3-year-olds. Sixty-three percent of 3-year-olds can adjust a smartphone’s volume verses only 24 percent of 2-year-olds. Seventy-one percent of 3-year-olds can take pictures on a smartphone verses only 33 percent of 2-year-olds.
Only 12 percent of respondents report their children knew how to purchase apps on their device.
Prior to their child reaching 8 months old, two-thirds of parents reported owning no apps for their child. After 9 months, 92 percent of parents reported owning at least one app for their child. One-third of parents (of children over 8 months) owned more than 10 apps, and 12 percent owned more than 20 apps for their child(ren).
Eighty-one percent of parents report using their smartphone to calm their child when upset.
Less than half of parents in our survey use passcode security. Of those who use a passcode, only 15 percent of their children know the passcode.
Hopefully, my story will inspire a few parents to passcode protect or “child proof” their smartphones. I believe that my son took my wife’s iPhone because mine is passcode protected. I take heart in learning that 71 percent of survey respondents reported their child taking their device without asking. I wonder what percentage of kids can remember where they left the device the next day.
Dr. Gregory Gordon grew up in Gainesville, Florida. He attended the University of Florida for both his undergraduate and medical degrees. After he completed his pediatric residency at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, he joined Pediatric Associates of Orlando. Dr. Gordon is the proud father of seven children. He is the Vice President of “The Gift of Swimming” (a local charity that provides swim lessons to Orlando’s needy children). In early 2010, encouraged by his patients, he started gregorygordonmd.com to share his pediatric and parenting experience.