70% of Mothers Say They Worry About Letting Their Kids Use Smartphones “Kids and Smartphones” Survey Results

The rate that smartphones and tablets are spreading in Japan continues to grow each year. While adults can't live without them, smartphones/tablets have begun to penetrate our children's worlds as well. MIKI House conducted a survey targeting parents with children ages 0-3 years of age, centered on the subject of child smartphone usage. Using responses from 2,107 individuals, we have gained new insight into the daily lives of children and their relationships with smartphones and tablets.

Target Audience: Baby Come Membership Program users with children ages 0-3 years.
Medium: Internet Survey
Completed Surveys: 2,107


Kids Who Want To Use It and Parents Who Want Them To Be Quiet

60% of parents responded “yes” when asked if their child ever used a smartphone or tablet.

When asked the frequency of use, the majority (30.8%) responded “Everyday”; “6 Days A Week” was next at 21.4%, “4 Days A Week” at 20.8%, and “5 Days A Week” at 17.5%.

At What Age Did Your Child Begin Using Smartphones/Tablets?
In response to this question, “At 1 year of age” had the most responses at 35.8%, the second highest was “After 2 years of age” at 26.9%. 19.8% of individuals said “Before the age of 1”, surpassing the individuals who responded “After 3 years of age” (17.5%).

What does your child do with the smartphone or tablet?
This question garnered many responses with the top response being “Watch Videos/Photos” with 45.3%, second was “Educational Games” at 18.8%, “Take Photos/Videos” was third (13.6%), and fourth was “General Games” with 12.5%. Additional responses included, “Visit Websites,” “Telephone,” “Video Calls,” “Holding and playing with the phone only,” and “Pretending to talk on the phone.”

When does your child use the smartphone or tablet?
With multiple varying responses, the top responses were as follows: “When we are out and I want them to be quiet and stop acting up” (18.7%), “When my child expresses they want to use it” (17.0%), “When my child sees the family using it and wants to use it” (15.7%), and “When we are eating out and I don’t want them to bother other patrons” (12.6%). The percentage of parents wanting their child to be quiet when out and parents letting their child use it because the child wanted were roughly the same.

Other responses included habitual uses such as “Before bed,” “During a haircut,” and “When brushing their teeth.” There were also individuals who responded with scenes such as “When they were left with their grandparents” or “When we weren’t looking and they started using it on their own.”


Parents Main Concern: “Will Smartphones Hurt My Child’s Eyes?”

We inquired, “Are there any concerns regarding your child using the smartphone or tablet?” 71.6% of individuals asked responded “Yes.”

The main concern was “If eyesight will decline or not” (29.2%). Additional concerns included: “They will accidentally call or email someone” (12.6%), “I feel like the tablet or smartphone is caring for my child” (12.5%), “No matter what, they end up using it for a long time” (12.4%), “It will affect their intellectual development” (12.0%), and “It will affect their emotional development” (11.1%).

“My child does not use a smartphone/tablet”

When we asked these individuals the main reason, the top response was “I don’t want them to use it” (49.7%). 26.1% responded “It’s not necessary for my child to use it,” “My child isn’t interested in them” was 7.5%, and 7.3% responded “We don’t have a smartphone or tablet.”

Furthermore, we asked individuals who responded “I don’t want them to use it” the reason and the top response was “Their eyesight will go bad” (25.8%). The following responses were: “I don’t want to rely on smartphones or tablets when raising my child” (20.6%), “I want to raise a child who will happily play outside” (19.6%), “I worry it will negatively affect their intellectual development” (10.8%), “I worry it will negatively affect their emotional development,” and “I worry they will break the smartphone or tablet” (9.0%). It is clear that among individuals who let their child use smartphones/tablets and those who don’t that one of the biggest concerns is that it will negatively affect their child’s eyesight.


Parents Also Worry, “Will My Child Become Dependent?” Or “What is The Appropriate Way To Use Them?”

Lastly, we asked our responders to freely tell us how they generally feel in regards to children using smartphones. Below are some of the responses we received. “I show them movies when we are out and I want them to properly sit in their chair and behave. I think it’s so useful. When I am waiting at the doctor’s office or something, I don’t have to worry about bothering others around us.” “I think it’s a useful toy when, instead of them just playing by themselves with it, we play together and communicate.” An example of feeling like it’s convenient when thinking of it as something to do together at a set time and place.

Despite letting their child use them, we received the below responses from parents who weren’t completely positive and still had some reservations. “If possible, I don’t want my child to use it, but when we are out and they are noisy, I find myself letting them us it.” “I thought I didn’t want to use YouTube videos or anything to help watch my child. However, they wanted to look at photos and watch movies and eventually they started playing with the smartphone. I regret it.” “Really, I don’t want to rely on a smartphone or any digital machines; however, my youngest child is naughty and tends to scream and cry when we are out. So, inevitably, I let them use it. Somehow I want to raise my kids without relying on a smartphone…”

There were individuals who worried about undesirable effects that might appear later in their child’s life.

“Are there really negative effects, as expected? If so, I want to know, concretely, what those negative effects are.” “I have heard that it effects their intellectual development, but I want to know what these effects really are. My child still hasn’t shown an interest so they don’t use them. However, I think they will show an interest soon so I want to know the effects.”

Smartphones and tablets are made to be used intuitively, so it seems there are children who “are better at using it than us.” There are also parents for whom the word “dependence” comes to mind. “I want my child to use the tablet to learn and absorb many things in a fun way, but I am worried they will become dependent on it.” “I am sure they would remember quickly, but I am worried they will become dependent so I don’t let them use it when it can be avoided. I want them to find other ways to play.”

Some individuals thought, “What is the most appropriate way to use smartphone/tablets? Not just for children, but should parent also consider this?”

“I think that when my child grows and says they want to use the smartphone or tablet, we can discuss the limits and how to use it. But I want to know what other parents are doing.” “I think it’s case-by-case. I think this will be a generation that needs to know how to use them properly. I feel that its crucial for the parents to set the rules and create an environment that doesn’t depend on more than what is necessary. This goes for the parents as well.”