2-3-Year-Old Children and the Use of Smart Devices

2-3-Year-Old Children and the Use of Smart Devices

Daiga Kalnina (University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia) and Armands Kalnins (University of Latvia, Riga, Latvia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/IJSEUS.2020010105
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In order to find out how 2–3-year-old children use smart devices and what the impact on children's development is, a systematic analysis of literature has been performed. Articles published in the EBSCOhost database during the period 2009–2019 have been selected for the analysis. They deal with studies focusing on 2–3-year-old children and the use of smart devices. The studies describe how 2–3-year-old children use touchscreen devices, as well as summarizing the benefits and risks of using touchscreen devices in the early years. It is concluded that the studies conducted are rather similar regarding form and content. Children use touchscreen devices for similar purposes and with similar time limits. Children under the age of two should not use smartphones and tablets; in turn, 2–3-year-old children should not be denied the technologies, though there should be awareness that use of the smartphone or tablet, along with positive benefits, also creates risks.
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Since the launch of Apple's iPhone in 2007, mobile phones have been used for a variety of purposes, and tablets have also developed rapidly. The iPad’s user-friendly design causes few technical problems, and users therefore become competent very fast (Lynch & Redpath, 2014). Children also show a lot of interest in touchscreen devices. Eighty percent of parents have touchscreen devices, and nine out of ten parents allow their young children to use them. Approximately two thirds of parents have downloaded applications for their children (Ahearne, Dilworth, Rollings, Livingstone, & Murray, 2016). In recent years, research on the role of parents in young children’s use of technologies has become topical (Daniela & Rudolfa, 2018; Liubinienė & Kasperavičienė, 2018; Rubene, Daniela, Kalniņa & Jansone-Ratinika, 2018). Although studies on the impact of technologies on children’s development have been conducted worldwide, their conclusions are not unambiguous: some scholars enthusiastically support the new media (e.g. Galloway, 2009), whereas others argue that new technologies have no place in early teaching (e.g. House, 2012). Besides, it should be taken into account that digital technologies are developing very rapidly, thus bringing changes in the possibilities, way and aim of using technologies. Although the majority of parents allow their children to use touchscreen technologies, they are concerned about the impact of technologies on children’s development. The opinion that the use of technologies is harmful to the child’s physical and mental health, and that it hinders the child’s development, is widely spread among parents. Due to these concerns, some parents do not allow their children to use the touchscreen devices. As touchscreen devices have become an integral part of the life of small children during the last decade and their impact on children’s development in the long term can be observed and properly analysed only now, the following research questions become topical:

  • 1.

    What research has been conducted concerning 2–3-year-old children and the use of smart devices?

  • 2.

    How do 2–3-year-old children use touchscreen devices?

  • 3.

    What are the benefits and risks of using touchscreen devices at an early age?

In order to find out how 2–3-year-old children use smart devices and how these devices affect the children’s development, the following research aim has been set: to conduct a systematic literature review by analysing articles available on EBSCOhost on research outcomes pertaining to the use of smart devices by 2–3-year-old children and the children’s development.



The systematic literature review was conducted between January and May 2019. The review process followed the three phases set out in the Joanna Briggs Institute Reviewer’s Manual (Aromataris & Munn, 2017).

The EBSCOhost database was used as the research basis. Articles were searched in the following data bases: Central & Eastern European Academic Source, Academic Search Complete, Academic Search Ultimate, American Doctoral Dissertations, eBook Academic Collection (EBSCOhost), ERIC, Health Source: Consumer Edition, Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, MasterFILE Premier, MEDLINE, and Teacher Reference Center.

In the first stage, based on the authors’ experience, the keywords ‘smartphone’, ‘tablet’ and ‘toddler’ were chosen for the search. Twelve publications were found: six in Academic Search Complete, three in MasterFILE Premier, two in ERIC, and one in MEDLINE.

Selecting the keywords ‘kids’ and ‘technology’, 2,573 articles were found in the following databases: Academic Search Ultimate (5,085), Academic Search Complete (5,081), MasterFILE Premier (3,506), Health Source: Nursing/Academic Edition (888), ERIC (607), Teacher Reference Center (605), MEDLINE (553), Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (401), Health Source: Consumer Edition (171), Central & Eastern European Academic Source (24), and eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) (22).

In the second phase, database-specific searches were conducted. In order to delimit the search, it was supplemented by the following stipulations:

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