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Smartphones Are the New Toddler 'Toy'

technology . / Credit: Kid with smartphone Image via Shutterstock

They may not be able to walk, talk or even be out of diapers yet, but that isn’t stopping a number of parents from getting their children smartphones.  New research has found that one-quarter of children ages 2 and younger own a smartphone, their parents say. 

The same number of children between ages 2 and 5 also owned smartphones, the researchers found. Overall, 44 percent of children under age 17 own a smartphone, new research by eMarkerter found.

Smartphones were most prevalent among children between ages 14 and 17, with two-thirds of respondents in that age group saying they owned a smartphone. Nearly 40 percent of children between ages 6 and 9 and 54 percent of 10- to 13-year-olds say they also own a phone.

[Smartphone Addiction is Real (and Growing)]

However, parents are not simply allowing their children to have smartphones without some guidance and restrictions, the researchers found.

"Among parents of children with a smartphone, 37 percent kept their child’s smart mobile screen time—including on a tablet—limited to one to two hours per day," the eMarketer report said. "Another 21 percent of parents let their kids keep the phone in hand for between three and four hours per day. And 16 percent of parents did not stop their kids from staying on the smartphone or tablet even after five hours."  

Even with those limits, a majority of parents say they uncomfortable giving their children a smartphone…at least until they turn 12. Twenty-two percent of parents say they are comfortable giving smartphones to 12- and 13-year-olds. Additionally, 27percent of parents with 13- and 14-year-old children and 24 percent of parents with 16- and 17-year-old children say they are comfortable giving their child a smartphone.

Just 10 percent of parents say they are not comfortable giving their child a smartphone. Smartphone manufacturers can help ease those fears by including several important features in their devices, parents say.

"For manufacturers aiming to create smartphones for kids that parents can get on board with, it’s notable that most parents wanted some parental control features on the phone and said they would be more comfortable with their child using a smartphone if more of these features were available," the eMarketer report said.

Follow David Mielach on Twitter @D_M89. Follow us @bndarticlesFacebookor Google+. Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.