By Stephanie Stahl
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Most toddlers use mobile devices like a smart phone, according to new research from North Philadelphia. And significantly, for the first time, this study shows even poor children have portable devices, signaling an end to what’s called the digital divide.
The research was conducted among low income, minority families. It used to be children from those families didn’t have smart phones and tablets. That technology was mainly for people with money. But this new study from Einstein Medical Center, which is getting national attention, shows that digital divide is going away.
Zuleide Santana’s 11-month-old son was being treated at the Einstein clinic for a fever. He’s easily distracted by his mom’s phone.
She says that’s, “Good and not good at the same time because electronics are not good to calm him but he knows how to use it.”
It’s common, before children can walk or talk many know how to use mobile devices.
The new study of 350 children under the age of four in North Philadelphia shows even very young children are handy with devices. “In the first year of life 92 percent of the children were reportedly using the devices or had used the device. By age two more than half were using it on a daily basis,” says lead researcher Dr. Matilde Irigoyen, the chair of the Dept. of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine at Einstein Medical Center. She says most four-year-olds had their own devices. And family income no longer matters. “What we conclude is that in this community (North Philly) ownership is pretty much universal,” Dr. Irigoyen says. She says that marks an ending of the digital divide where income determined who did and didn’t have devices.
The study showed most parents used technology to distract and entertain toddlers while they were out and doing errands and 28 percent used them to get kids to sleep.
The research didn’t look at the impact of toddlers using devices, whether it’s good or bad for them, but experts say it’s always best when parents are involved and interact with their children and the technology.