A new study by the San Francisco-based non-profit group Common Sense Media found that affluent parents download apps specifically for their young children more than parents of lesser financial means do.

Deemed the “app gap,” researchers found almost half of families with incomes above $75,000 had downloaded such apps, compared with only one in eight families earning less than $30,000. Lower-income families were also more likely to have televisions in their kids’ bedrooms.

And while the study found television still accounts for the largest share of screen-time, it also discovered that half of children under the age of eight had access to mobile devices like smartphones, video iPods, or tablet devices like iPads.

“The app gap is a big deal and a harbinger of the future,” said James Steyer, Common Sense Media’s chief executive. “It’s the beginning of an important shift, as parents increasingly are handing their iPhones to their one-and-a-half-year-old kid as a shut-up toy. And parents who check their email three times on the way to the bus stop are constantly modeling that behavior, so it’s only natural the kids want to use mobile devices too.”

Despite statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics saying screen time should be limited for small children, parent Keith Lender has downloaded dozens of tablet and smart phone apps for his two toddler-aged sons. “I’ll lie to myself that these are skill builders,” he says before correcting himself. “No, I’m not lying. [They're] really learning hand-eye coordination … and it beats the hell out of sitting and watching television.”

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