Toddlers and technology: a bad mix?

Filed Under: Apple, Data loss, Featured, iOS, Malware, Mobile, Privacy, Vulnerability

Baby talking on mobile phone
I am sure that any of you with young children can attest to the following: they just love playing with your smartphones or tablets.

In our house, our iPad is in constant demand by our just-about-to-turn-three year-old niece, nicknamed Doobs. She calls it The Board. She will literally plead for 'The Boooooard' as she drags you by the hand to locate the hiding place we stashed it in before her arrival.

What I find amazing is how quickly she learns the objective of a game and what sequence of buttons to press to restart a completed game.

Well, it turns out that a survey run by Legal & General backs this up, reporting that babies as young as six months are playing with their parents' electronic gadgets. A surprising 19% of parents said their "children had sent a text message or made calls from their mobile phone without them knowing at the time".

60% of little people aged six months to two years (as well as 1 in 10 babies under 6 months) were found to play with devices around the home like laptops, computers, phones and tablets.

And maybe this is not surprising. After all, youngsters learn much of their behaviour from the adults around them. If parents, nursery staff and babysitters spend a lot of time chatting, playing and working on these devices, they will obviously become more attractive to youngsters.

Maybe that's why a three-year-old boy was able to buy a £9,000 Barbie pink Nissan Figaro on an internet auction site from his mum's computer.

Baby-playing-on-laptopAnd of course there is a security angle to this. If an adult gives a device to a kid to play on unsupervised, they cannot be sure what's been sent, what settings have been inadvertently changed, or what gets installed

A friend of mine was just telling me about his 6-year-old nephew who nabbed his phone and installed a joke app to make the phone screen appear to have a cracked screen....hillllllarious!

We know that there is an increasing number of scams and malicious applications on popular sites, and we cannot expect this youngsters to understand how damaging an infection or scam can be.

The best advice is to ensure your devices are locked with a password. This will help stop your devices being used without your knowledge. For those of you that have given permission for a youngster to use your device, you should look into whether you can authorise a secondary password for any setting or applications changes.

And alas, none of these tips will stop your device becoming clogged with munge from sticky fingers or falling gracelessly down the stairs to an early grave. They only way to have that is to keep under lock and key. And that is really not much fun for anyone, is it?

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6 Responses to Toddlers and technology: a bad mix?

  1. Himanush · 1536 days ago

    Mostly parents themselves provide separate account in their computers for their children. My cousin brother who is about 2 years old access internet and watch youtube videos. I say its the lack of parental control over their children. My cousin brother makes a big fuzz if he is not allowed to use computer and finally parents give up and provide him access. This is definitely not for good..

  2. Toddlers to young adults often understand how to make electronics do what they want. They can operate a large amount of the computer's basic utilities, but have little understanding of what is happening under the hood. Some of the less tech savvy adults trust their children with their computer needs because they think their children understand computers enough to operate them properly.

  3. KristL · 1536 days ago

    My husband and I just keep our old laptops that still run but are outdated and let our children have them or our friend's children have them. We do the same with old cell phones or buy kids the pre-paid cells, either with or without minutes. We bought my seven year old cousin a pre-paid for his birthday and his parents stole it because it was the only phone that worked out on the lake they live on :) They replaced it with an iphone. (I do not recommend cells for little kids - too many small parts.)

  4. rebefi · 1536 days ago

    for people with androids or iphones there are Toddler friendly apps. we have a two year old and while we allow her to play with our phones we always set the phone to one of the toddler friendly apps that lock all the keys but leaves the touch screen open and will not let you leave that app without a pass code or set of patterned touches, of course she is still not allowed to use it without adult supervision which is always the parents responsibility.

  5. Zeek · 1536 days ago

    My granddaughter taught my BlackBerry to moo like a cow every time I got an email. Real funny. Until I was waiting to use my post-office box one day. A rather corpulent lady had gotten there before me, and was trying to open her post office box which was in the bottom tier.

    Yep. I got an email right then.

    If looks could kill, I'd have been a puddle on the floor of the post office when she straightened up and turned around.

    Needless to say, I called my sweet granddaughter and asked her how to make it stop.

  6. Mark W · 1534 days ago

    I wonder how warped the results of this survey are in regards to the parents' pride of how smart and tech-savvy their ninos are?

    Mark at

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About the author

Hi. I am a social, brand and communications expert with 10 years in senior roles in the tech space. I'm currently Sophos' s Global Director of Social Media and Communities. Proudest work achievement? Creating and launching award-winning Naked Security. Outside work, I am a mean cook, an avid reader, a chronic insomniac, a podcast obsessive and blogger .