Two-year-olds already spend nearly an hour in front of screens every day

BERTRAND GUAY / AFP A caregiver stands near a child who looks at a screen, on March 21, 2017 in Neuilly-Plaisance, near Paris, in the new day hospital for autistic children. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)


An INSEE study published on Tuesday, November 22 reveals the growing use of digital screens among toddlers. (Photo: A caregiver stands near a child who looks at a screen, March 21, 2017 in Neuilly -Plaisance, near Paris)

SCREENS – The rule of “no screen for 3 years” is far from the norm. INSEE has studied for the first time the use of tablets, smartphones and computers by toddlers, between two and six years old. And the finding of investigation published this Tuesday, November 22 is clear: at only two years old, nearly a third of children begin to be exposed to screens (excluding television). This study aims in particular to compare the changes in the use of digital screens compared to television.

During the first six years of their life, “only four out of ten children are permanently kept away from digital screens”, reveals the Elfe survey (French longitudinal study since childhood) carried out among 18,000 children born in 2011.

Trivialization of the use of digital screens

From the age of two, children spend an average of six minutes a day in front of a tablet, computer, or smartphone. For the most exposed of them – 16% of children are considered to have excessive consumption – this time is more than twenty minutes each day.

In addition, there is the time spent in front of the television. A two-year-old child spends 47 minutes in front of the small screen on average. Thus, from the second year of his life, a child spends a total of 53 minutes in front of digital screens and television, deplores Amandine Schreiber, head of Deps, the statistical service of the Ministry of Culture, in The Parisian.

The survey warns against the trivialization of the use of digital screens, which seem less harmful than television. While TV still has the image of the “bad cultural object” that encourages passivity, the tablet and the computer symbolize modernity. This is partly false, the researchers note: “Children often use tablets to watch television content, while more and more televisions are connected and therefore potentially interactive. »

“Parental initiation” weighs the most in the evolution of uses

Moreover, according to the observations of this study, the consumption of screens increases as it grows. If three quarters of the little ones are kept away from screens before the age of two, either because they do not have access to them or because they do not have one, this proportion decreases with age and falls to less than 50% at 5 and a half years. “At this age, more than one in five children is a moderate user of digital screens, spending between 10 and 30 minutes a day on average”finds the survey.

But the evolution of the use of screens depends on the social environment in which the child grew up. According to researchers, screen consumption is intrinsically linked to “economic and cultural resources” families. But also instead in the siblings, or the practices of the parents, whether or not they share moments in front of the screens with their children. “It is early socialization and parental initiation that weigh the most on the digital trajectories of children”supports the Institute.

Only children also seem more inclined to move towards “trajectory of intensification of the use of digital screens”. According to the researchers, this tendency is explained by the need to occupy the child while the parents, in particular the mother, are alone to take care of household chores or care. The psychologist Samuel Comblez estimates in the columns of the Parisian : “Without dramatizing, it is important to remain cautious and favor classic, traditional games for the little ones”

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