By Jonathan Davies

More children can manoeuvre around a tablet than can swim, tie their shoes laces and tell the time, according to new research by optical advice company, Lenstore.

Fifty-nine percent of parents surveyed said their children can confidently navigate and use a tablet device, second only to riding a bike (60%).

Using a mobile phone was just behind tablets, with 57% of parents saying their children are able to work a mobile phone. Swimming (53%), tying shoe laces (53%) and telling the time (50%) all fell short. There was some other positive news in that the ability to read was on a part with using a mobile phone with 57%.

Lenstore said 30% of 2-4 year olds have a tablet and spend an average of 2hrs 35mins per day on digital devices.

That figure rises to 3hrs for 5-7 year olds and 3hrs 50mins for 8-10 year olds.

The research suggests that two thirds of parents are concerned about their children's overuse of digital devices. But there are those who argue the case for children using mobile technology at an early age. Dr. Carloyn Jones, learner designer for Leapfrog Enterprises said: "By age three, many children are active media users and can benefit from electronic media with educational content."

Martyn Kelly, a freelance user experience (UX) consultant and former Head of Web & UX at Cardiff University, said: "You can't research children as if they're a fixed point in learning or an old dog that isn't going to develop any more. By the same rationale, you could panic the world by saying '90% of children can't wipe their own bums but can watch TV'.

"More interesting to me to know how many adults can use a tablet and not tie laces or swim, because they are way more of a fixed point in terms of development. My 5 year old made his first animated gif this week but he still can't write his own name properly. I'm not giving up on him just yet."

Earlier today (Tuesday), research from Virgin Media Business showed that 76% of teachers are incorporating technology into lessons to boost digital skills.

Lenstore said young children and teens should not exceed more than two hours on digital devices, far less time than is being spent on them by 5-10 year olds, for instance.

The optical advice firm recommended using the 20/20/20 rule to protect children's eyesight. It said that at a young age, children's eyes are still developing and steps need to be taken to protect them. It recommends looking every from a digital devices for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and looking at something 20ft away.

Do you think children spend too much time on digital devices? Or should they start young to maximise their career prospects? You can email your reactions to editor@freshbusinessthinking.com

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