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Is your Child Smart Phone Delayed?

Smart phone development


Child with ipad

In our office, we have seen an increase in the number of children who pass waiting room time playing on an iphone, droid or ipad. I am often impressed with their comfort level and touch screen abilities. What amazes most adults seems natural and innate in toddler’s hands.

One mother reported,”My 62 year old mother can't figure out my smart phone, but my 17 month old daughter can use it. My daughter knows exactly what to do with the phone“

To clarify these abilities, I posted a 10 question electronic survey to inquire about children’s smart phone abilities. Over a one week period, 122 surveys were completed on children between 4 to 60 months of age. The average participant was 28.1 months old.

Ninety six percent of participants reported their child showed interest in smart phones. Three quarters of parents reported having an app on their phone for their children.

Children seem to learn to use a touch screen around 12 months. Only 44 percent of children 4 to 11 months could use a touch screen compared to 96 percent of children 12 months and up.

Most children were able to “slide to unlock” between 12 to 24 months and change from app to app on a device between 24 to 36 months. The majority of 3 to 4 year old children can take pictures and adjust the volume of a smart phone.

It seems children are as fascinated with our smart phones are their parents. Another mother reported her 25 month old “ will take my phone and play his games but when the phone rings he will say "no call" and hit the end button. One day I had 15 missed messages.”

Since beginning this survey, I have had daily questions on children and smart phone exposure. Currently, there is little research and no recommendations from groups like the American Academy of Pediatrics on smart phone use for children. Once again, technology moves forward faster than research.

More research is needed to assess the potential positive and negative impact on a child’s development. Until we learn more, my children will continue to have limited exposure to this amazing technology.





Written October 2011 by
Dr. Gordon, Windermere Pediatrician



 is intended to help parents understand the needs and behaviors of children. The information presented in the site is the opinion of Gregory Gordon, M.D.and does not reflect the opinion of his partners. This website is owned exclusively by Doctors insights LLC. The advice in this site does not apply to all children. Always consult your healthcare provider for your individual needs.

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