Children as young as one regularly use touchscreen devices, with most toddlers handling them competently by the age of two, research shows.
Swiping, unlocking or searching on smartphones and tablets were skills possessed by the majority of children in the study, The BMJ said.
It suggested that instead of being unhealthy for a child, time on touchscreen devices is not dissimilar to traditional forms of interactive play.
The study found 82 per cent of parents owned a smart device, 87 per cent of whom let their child play with it. Half of parents said their child can unlock the screen while 91 per cent can swipe and 64 per cent can search for features.
The report, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, said: “Interactive touchscreen applications offer a level of engagement not previously experienced with other forms of media and are more akin to traditional play. This opens up the potential… for both assessment of development and early intervention in high-risk children.”
The findings are based on 82 questionnaires, 47 of whom were boys.