Techie Babies Era, Rising? 1 in 3 Babies Learn to Use A Smartphone Before They Could Walk or Talk!

Do you remember the very first activity that you were fond of doing as an infant? I don't and I can't. But whatever it was, I'm sure it has nothing to do with gadgets. You see, my fascination with electronic stuff started a bit later, when I was already in elementary school and it was when my dad gave me and my younger brother our first gaming console.

Then again, I'm from another generation; One that first had 'internet at home' when they were in high school and first experienced an iPhone when they were already in their first job after college.

Techie Baby, Baby Smartphone
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Today, babies are born in a different world - at least, in terms of technology. As soon as they open their eyes, they are bombarded with gadgets and electronics. They see their parents use smartphones and tablets to take photos and then upload the images on social networking even before they are able process what's happening around them. Heck, there are even mobile applications now that made specifically for babies, to keep them preoccupied. Suffice it to say, 'use of technology' has become one of the first lessons a human being gets as soon as he or she is born into this planet.

Last week, at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) held in San Diego, USA, researchers disclosed findings that one in seven toddlers under the age of one in the United States have learned to use a gadget for at least one hour per day. Their research also showed that more than half of those children who are less than one year old had watched a TV show, 36% had already touched or scrolled a mobile device's screen and almost one quarter had made a phone call!

“We didn’t expect children were using the devices from the age of 6 months. Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes," shared the study's lead author Dr. Hilda Kabali.

Results also showed that 73% of parents let their children play with mobile devices while doing household chores, 60% while running errands, 65% to calm a child and 29% to put a child to sleep. As expected, time spent on mobile devices increased with age, with 26% of 2-year-olds and 38% of 4-year-olds using devices for at least an hour a day.

For me, all these merely reinforce the fact that we are now living in an era where gadgets have become an essential part of our daily existence. Whether these parents are aware of it or not, they are training their children to become more adept in using technology to their advantage as they grow up and become members of the society.

In many ways, allowing kids to try their hands on mobile devices as early as possible can be beneficial. And we don't really need to look too far to appreciate how technology and the internet are helping children become better learners. However, it also has major downsides that all of us have to be aware of.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics [source], "Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors."

What's the right thing that parents should do then amidst the rise of this seeming 'Techie Babies Era'? AAP shares that 'by limiting screen time and offering educational media and non-electronic formats such as books, newspapers and board games, and watching television with their children, parents can help guide their children's media experience. Putting questionable content into context and teaching kids about advertising contributes to their media literacy.' They added, "Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens."

Talk about classic 'good parenting' with a twist; Parents just need to be always there for their kids and manage how the young ones experience or make use of electronics.

I'm 31 and while I don't intend to have kids soon, I have many friends and relatives who have recently become moms and dads and I bet that this issue will be important to them as they raise their children in this modern world.