Study finds many children have own mobile device, spend too much time on it

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A new journal pediatrics report found that children are racking up large amounts of screen time and that many owned their own mobile device. (KABC)

A new journal pediatrics report found that children are racking up large amounts of screen time and that many owned their own mobile device.

Researchers surveyed 350 Philadelphia families and found that by age 4, half of the children had their own television. Three out of four of the children surveyed also owned their own mobile device.

Pediatrician John Rodarte said a child with their own mobile device raises a lot of questions.

"The one surprise here is that so many children under age 4 have their own devices whether that be bought by the family or hand-me-downs. I think that in itself is a little bit of a concern," he said.

The study found that most 3 and 4 year olds use devices without supervision, and that many use more than one screen at the same time.

Earlier guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended no screen time at all for kids under the age of 2, but lately the group has softened its stance.

"Well we can't say, 'No, don't let them play it at all.' It's really about managing that time and making sure that there's still family time and family contact," Rodarte said.

Rodarte added there needs to be more long-term research to determine how screen usage affects neurological development. But most experts agree that using a mobile device for more than an hour a day can impact a child's social development and can cut into how much exercise they get.

While the findings may not apply to all kids, Rodarte said the conclusions are a wake-up call for parents to monitor their child usage. More than 80,000 apps are labeled educational, but experts say look for products that require more than pushing and swiping.

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