Pushing physical buttons was so 2013 — today’s tech is all about touch screens and tablets. There aren’t many places you can go to escape the touchscreen hype. According to a not-super-surprising study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, touchscreens are so ubiquitous, even two-year-olds are getting the hang of it. This won’t shock anyone who has watched a little one navigate their parents’ phones. Toddlers between 12 and 30 months are officially becoming adept at using a handful of touchscreen features, including swiping, unlocking and identifying and actively looking for features. But the study revealed some other insight that suggests we don’t need to put kiddies on digital detox just yet.
Based on 82 questionnaires filled out over a five-month period, most of the parents that were questioned (87 percent) said that they owned a touchscreen device. Of those parents that owned a device, 91 percent of them had children who could unlock a screen and 64 percent said their toddler could actively search for touchscreen features like a game icon or a favorite app.
The most common activities performed by toddlers on touch screens were viewing photos and videos. Although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended in 1999 that children under two should be discouraged from screen time (their reasoning was that there was too much unsuitable material available, and they feared it would displace the important interactions found in, you know, playing), this study found that touch screens actually helped young minds develop. “Interactive touchscreen applications offer a level of engagement not previously experienced with other forms of media and are more akin to traditional play,” say the authors.
Although this doesn’t mean a touch screen should replace all traditional play and activities (the average touchscreen time for toddlers was only 15 minutes per day), these findings are an interesting development in the ever-changing world of children’s tech. Who knows, touchscreens might just become (even more of) a parenting staple in 2016.
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(Photos via Peter Macdiarmid + Dan Kitwood/Getty)