How many times have we seen a toddler staring wide-eyed at a cell phone in their hands? How early is too early?

Any parent who tried to limit their child’s screen time before the COVID-19 pandemic quickly saw those time limits explode as children had to spend hours learning in front of their devices.

But even before distance learning and extra idle time, little ones seem to have been just as engrossed in tech as their caregivers.

Is that OK for their development?

Children and cell phones

Compared to even 5 or 10 years ago, more and more kids are using smartphones, and they’re using them much earlier.

In a 2020 survey by the Pew Research Center, 60% of children were exposed to smartphones before age 5. In that group, 31% had been introduced to phones before age 2.


Some experts believe there are opportunities in exposing younger children to smartphones.

According to Concordia University of Nebraska, the intro to technology can benefit children by teaching them how to navigate different operating symptoms and become more technologically literate.

“Technology is an incredible educational tool,” says Dr. Eva Lazar, director of The Lazar Center, in New Jersey. “Young children can learn a lot from programming like Sesame Street, and foster relationships with family members who aren’t necessarily present.”

When many caregivers were growing up, memories were found in family albums, address books, and annual photo calendars.

Many in Gen Z and forward know nothing of these things. The repository and connection of their entire lives thus far reside on the phones we give them and the cloud where all their memories are backed up.