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Is it dumb to let a 2-year-old wield a smartphone?

August 6, 2011 |  8:54 am


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

GenY moms are starting 'em out young: A third of their 2-year-olds are already at home with smartphones, laptops and even digital cameras.

Gen X moms -- a little older, but also tech-savvy -- are just a tad behind. Just under 30% of their offspring have used a laptop by age 2, and 18% and 20% are comfortable with a digital camera and smartphone, respectively.

These results were among the highlights of a joint study released this week by the BlogHer publishing network and Parenting magazine, and released as BlogHer holds its seventh annual conference. Of the 1,038 women polled, 90% have children under the age of 10. Questions drilled down on the use of technology in the lives of the women, and their children.

"The kids are not potty trained yet, but are using laptops, smartphones. Digital cameras as well. It's just amazing to see the rate at which kids are being exposed to those devices at an early age, and what it's doing and changing our role as parents," said Lynne Fleck-Seitz of Verizon, who moderated a panel held at the BlogHer annual conference Friday afternoon in San Diego titled, "The Tie that Binds Parent and Child."

But even if it's not a 2-year-old showing adults how to use an iPad, "our kids are plugged in at a much younger age," Catherine McManus of The Parenting Group added.

The results fly in the face of recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommends zero screen time for kids under 2. But that is just not a reality in today's wired world, the panelists said.

What do you think? Is a 2-year-old too young to be wielding a smartphone?

Other highlights from the report:

-- Facebook is the social medium of choice among those polled: 81% of the women surveyed turn to Facebook on a regular basis, with 46% checking in three or more times a day.

-- While the media makes it seem like everyone and their mother is on Twitter, only 45% of the users polled use Twitter to interact with the world. Far more popular social media outlets among those surveyed: blogs (70%) and YouTube (66%).

-- Women don't need much -- just the Internet, a computer and an old-fashioned cellphone, thank you very much. The women polled categorized those items as "necessities," versus "luxuries" such as smartphones, iPads and even cable. "I could not function or exist without [my laptop]," said one woman.

-- The survey also found that screen time is taking a different form. Roughly 40% of women surveyed said they only go a "few hours" without using the Internet, a cellphone or a smartphone, but about half that number said they could do without the TV. (By contrast, kids still love their TV, according to the survey.)

-- It's not just kids that need an unlimited texting plan. Of the moms polled, 81% said they rely on their phones to make phone calls, and 78% said they use it for texting.

-- If stranded on a desert island with access to only one device, 43% of the women polled said they'd choose the laptop, while 29% said they'd choose a smartphone. Only 4% said they would want to unplug completely and leave all devices on the mainland.

-- By contrast, the women polled said their kids would demand access to a TV and DVD on their desert island.

-- Despite all the evidence that today's moms and kids are wild over being wired, "Face to Face still trumps Facebook," the survey found. About 90% of day-to-day communication between mother and child was done face-to-face, no screen necessary.

[For the record, 5:01 p.m. Aug. 8, 2011: An earlier version of this post identified Lynne Fleck-Seitz as a BlogHer representative. She works for Verizon.]


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