A survey of children aged 5-6 who use mobile devices on a daily basis at home: personal and contextual characteristics and cognitive and emotional problems





preschool children, digital technologies, mobile devices, cognitive and emotional problems, parents’ questionnaire


The spread of interactive electronic devices (especially smartphones and tablets) among children is a recent but increasingly expanding phenomenon. Research conducted so far in Italy has focused on school-aged children and adolescents, while there are still very few studies on preschoolers. In our study, 473 parents of 5-6 year old children completed a questionnaire on socio-demographic and familiar features, problems of the child, typology of home-based devices, characteristics of the use of smartphones and tablets by the child, opinions of parents on such use. The results indicate that the smartphone is used by half of the children and the tablet by 48,5% of them. Children using mobile devices for at least 2 hours a day (regular users, n=45) were compared with children who only occasionally use them (occasional users, n=69). The results show that, compared to the other group, regular users: a) have younger fathers; b) live in contexts where digital devices are more present; c) have parents who consider mobile devices as instruments of knowledge and promotion of intelligence and allow their children to use them mainly in environments more suited to adults (eg restaurants). Moreover, emotional, selfregulating, sleep and feeding problems are more frequent among regular users.