A new study has revealed that a third of pre-school children in the UK have their own iPad or a similar tablet
According to research by the University of Sheffield, under-fives are using the devices for an average of one hour and 19 minutes every weekday and an hour and 23 minutes on a weekend.
Experts said that often they were left on their own without a parent or guardian.
In households that have tablets, 31 per cent of children aged five and under have their own with around a quarter of those under three also being given their own device to play with.
Lead researcher Jackie Marsh said: “The study showed that the use of apps on tablets by pre-schoolers can be very productive and foster a wide range of play and creativity.
“However, apps need to be chosen carefully by parents for this age group.
“Parents should look for apps produced by broadcasters or companies that know a great deal about this age group.”
The research was based on a survey of 2,000 parents of children aged up to five where there was at least one tablet in the household.
According to the study youngsters used their tablets to watch television programmes and films, play games, listen to music and engage in role play.
More than half of those questioned said their children can swipe the screen, drag items, open and exit apps and tap the screen to operate commands.
The study also found the children’s top ten favourite apps were: YouTube; CBeebies (Playtime and Storytime); Angry Birds; Peppa’s Paintbox; Talking Tom; Temple Run; Minecraft; Disney (general); Candy Crush Saga and Toca Boca.
A previous Ofcom study, published earlier this year, revealed that tablet computers were particularly popular with families with children – and among the 5 to 15-year-old age group, 71 per cent of children had access to a tablet device at home.