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The earliest of adopters

Talk about fine motor skills. Jo’hans Joseph’s son had the iPad finger swipe down before he was a year old.

“He knew the difference between Apple and Android,” Joseph says. “He knew that Android he needed assistance to get it turned on, and Apple he did not.”

Joseph, who works for a financial firm in New York, limits his now almost-two-year-old to 90 minutes of screen time a day -- mostly puzzles and alphabet games. He and his wife are like many parents -- often glued to their own devices -- letting their kids play, too.

A new study from the group Common Sense Media found that 38 percent of children under two have used a mobile device, like an iPhone or tablet computer. That’s up from 10 percent just two years ago.

“Today, as many little babies and one-year-olds have used smart phones or tablets as all kids under the age of 8 had done nearly two years ago,” says Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense. “That’s a phenomenal increase.”

Media companies have noticed. Disney just announced its new show for preschoolers, “Sheriff Callie’s Wild West,” will debut on an app and only later come to TV. Disney’s own research found more than half of households with children now have tablets.

“The way families are using media, Disney can reach kids where they are, not just where the television set is,” says David Kleeman, a senior fellow with the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media. (Yes, that Mr. Rogers.)

All that reach hasn’t been lost on the American Academy of Pediatrics. Today it reaffirmed its recommendation that kids under two stay away from screens.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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