Babies who are being exposed to technology in the first year of their lives are quickly turned into regular users.
A survey was given to 370 minority parents of children ages 6 months to 4 years, all cared for by a Philadelphia pediatric clinic for low-income households, Daily Mail reports.
They were asked when their kids first began using smartphones and tablets and how much time they spend with the electronic devices in a given day.
Based on their parents' answers, 36 percent of children had tapped on a screen before, and 15 percent had used a specific app.
By the time the children had celebrated their first birthdays, 1 in 7 were already accustomed to spending at least an hour a day on a smart device.
Lead author Hilda Kabali, of Philadelphia's Einstein Healthcare Network, said the number of kids younger than a year old using technological gadgets is "surprisingly large."
Dr. Kabali said,
We didn't expect children were using the devices from the age of six months. Some children were on the screen for as long as 30 minutes.
Technology usage was determined to also be significantly higher as children got older.
According to researchers, 26 percent of 2-year-olds spend at least an hour of their day dedicated to these devices, compared to the 38 percent of 4-year-olds who use them.
Part of the increase in technology usage has to do with their parents.
Researchers found 75 percent of parents allow their kids to use technology while they do chores around the house.
Devices can also bring peace in the household, as 65 percent of parents said they use them to calm their children down, and 29 percent cited smartphones and tablets as valuable tools to help their children fall asleep.
However, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that children should not spend extended amounts of time in front of a TV, computer, smartphone or tablet before they turn 2 years old.
But only 30 percent of these parents, however, said their pediatrician made it a point to ask about their child's relationship with technology.
While the effects of early computer use on children are yet to be scientifically documented, previous studies have shown that kids ages 4 to 5 have a higher risk of becoming obese if they watch more than an hour of TV a day.
This research was recently displayed at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in San Diego.