20 Sep 2016, Catherine Gaunt
According to market research company Childwise, most children at this age are competent users of this technology - they can open apps, adjust volume controls, turn devices on and off, and take photos using tablet computers.
One in three children under five now has their own tablet, up from one in four last year.
However, the number of pre-school children with access to a mobile phone is down on last year.
Childwise research manager Jenny Ehren said, ‘This reflects the recent surge in tablet ownership and growing access to on-demand services and digital content among this age group.’
The findings come from the Childwise Pre-school Report 2016, which was was first published in 2009 and provides evidence of media consumption and behaviour among the under-fives.
They are based on interviews with 1,005 parents of children aged between six months and four years.
Ms Ehren added, ‘Pre-schoolers and their parents have rapidly adopted the tablet computer. It has quickly emerged as a most-wanted device for children, even among the very young – and parents have encouraged this, considering tablets and the games and apps on them, a great way to keep small children entertained and provide a learning benefit.
‘In fact, the majority of parents say they are comfortable with the amount of time their child spends watching TV programmes and other video content each day – although a significant minority are less enthusiastic.’
The majority of parents said that they watched TV with their child at some point during the day.
YouTube is the most popular channel for video-on-demand and Netflix is the most popular subscription-based service.
Children at this age are also watching in-demand TV, with two out of five pre-school households accessing the BBC’s CBeebies iplayer and CBeebies remaining popular for scheduled TV.
Pre-school children spend around two-and-a-half hours a day watching programmes, films and videos.
Children are increasingly aware of brands and the number of children that can name a favourite app has increased.
Around one in four three- and four-year-olds read or are read magazines at least once a month.