Should You Get Your Child a Smartphone or Tablet? How Young is Too Young?

Koszalin, Poland – October 07, 2014: Close-up shot of iPhone 6 hand-held by woman on white background. Devices displaying the applications on the home screen. iPhone 6 (4.7 inches) is next generation smartphone from Apple. Device displaying the applications on the home screen.

Ofcom’s recent report on children’s media use and attitudes revealed some interesting things. The report discovered that 6% of three-seven year old children have their own smartphone, and 19% have their own tablet, while 5% have a social media profile. 52% of 3-4 year olds go online for nearly nine hours a week, and a total of 45% use YouTube.

While the report suggested that parents are becoming increasingly concerned about the Internet, just under 50% of parents of 3-4 year olds agreed that the benefits of the Internet outweigh any risks for their child. Most parents said their children were supervised in some way while online, either through physical supervision and/or technical tools. Many had also taken the time to talk to their children about online safety in some way or another.

The report’s findings bring up an interesting question for parents. Should you allow a young child access to a smartphone or tablet? How young is too young when it comes to using a smartphone or other device, or going online?

Children today are growing up in the fourth industrial revolution. Technology is moving quicker than ever and young people and children are becoming ‘digital natives’ in a way that simply was not possible for those in previous generations. It is clear that the technologies that are around today impact every area of life for most of us, and it seems that this will become even more the case in the years to come. Making sure that children are introduced early to the devices which will, of necessity, likely play an important role in their lives seems like a good idea. Early familiarisation with such devices will help them navigate the technology that will almost definitely be a big part of their lives.

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