A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the majority of children have their own mobile device by the age of 4.

By baby teeth chart

Think you're the only parent working overtime to monitor your baby's screen time? Think again. A new study published online today in Pediatrics found that children in low-income, minority urban communities had "almost universal exposure" to gadgets like smartphones and tablets.

This finding is a 180 from previous research that found a correlation between wealth and ownership of digital devices.

The study involved 350 children who went to sick or well visits at one specific medical center in a low-income community in Philadelphia. Researchers surveyed the parents during those visits. Considering the ubiquity of devices—and the lower costs of owning them—their findings are pretty much what you'd think: A whopping 97 percent of kids lived in a home with a TV; a vast majority (83 percent) had access to tablets and cell phones (77 percent); and well over half had a computer (58 percent), a video console (56 percent), and access to the Internet (59 percent).

What's more, nearly all (97 percent) of the children had played with a mobile device, and nearly 75 percent had their own gadget by the time they turned 4. This stat gave researchers pause, in part because the jury is still out on how cell phones and tablets impact a child's social and cognitive development.

Interestingly, 44 percent of babies younger than 1 played games, apps, or watched videos on a mobile device. That number jumps up to 77 percent by the time those children turn 2. The reasons parents gave for handing over a phone or tablet will sound familiar: so they can do chores (70 percent) and run errands (58 percent), and so the child will stay quiet in public (65 percent). More than a quarter (28 percent) also fessed up to using a mobile device to help put their kiddo to sleep.

These stats help paint a more realistic picture of electronics' role in our kids' lives, where we can't fill up our cars or shop at a grocery store or take a cab without running into some sort of screen. Personally, adhering to the American Academy of Pediatrics' longstanding no-screen-time rule for kids younger than 2 was nearly impossible for me to follow. My guess is that I'm hardly alone here.

In fact, in response to the sprawling electronic landscape, the AAP last month softened its stance on screen time. While some recommendations—like setting limits and modeling good behavior—stayed the same, the academy also realized that these days, "'screen time' is simply becoming 'time.'"

To that end, we parents are encouraged to play video games with our kids and always look at the screen with our babies and toddlers. The quality of what our children play also matters; the AAP suggests prioritizing how they spend their electronics time and also making sure interactive apps are age-appropriate and offer some educational value.

But just as important, the AAP points out, is giving our kids plenty of unstructured time to simply play—unplugged, of course.

Don't forget to sign up to receive our free Parents Daily Baby newsletter.

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on TwitterPinterest, and Google+.


Comments (2)

December 17, 2018
Android APP: Child Proof Gadget Have you ever experienced that your small kid has deleted some of your contacts / sent a message to one of your contacts / deleted some of your mails / changed the settings on your phone / etc.? If yes, then this app is for you! Download:https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.lee.childlock&hl=en Check Demohttps://youtu.be/7uDvI5KSG4E?list=PLuNQh_AfxaxmrF1yegWueHs4wlP41hA4r
December 4, 2018
Quick tip for all you parents all out there: My baby never slept well (especially through the night) until I started using the website >>>>SleepBaby .org<<<< - that website has been by far one of the best things I've ever got my hands on to get him to fall asleep quickly. Best time is 45 seconds from awake to asleep! I heard about it through a kindergarten teacher who uses it to put to sleep a group of 30 children. Check it out! Sorry, you can't post links here so you'll have to turn it into a normal link. >>SleepBaby .org<< Best of luck to you and your family! :)