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Mums using smartphones to keep kids entertained

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Mother and baby

© Rex Features / Westend61

More than a quarter of mums now use smartphones rather than other comforters, such as teddy bears and dummies, to keep their children quiet, according to a new report.

Supermarket chain Asda conducted a survey of 1,662 mums earlier in the month and found that smartphones are increasingly becoming the primary way to entertain young children.

The research revealed that 27% of mums use their phone regularly to entertain their off-spring, ahead of a bottle or a drink (25%), soft toys (21%) or a dummy (9%).

Some 40% of mums let their children play with their smartphone for an average of 10 minutes or less a day, but one in ten admit to allowing them to regularly play for one to two hours at a time.

Parents most often use smartphones to keep their children quiet when they wake up early in the morning, or when at a restaurant, in the car or waiting for an appointment.

Louise Pearson, a mother of two boys from Bishop Stortford, said: "My phone is the boys' favourite toy, sometimes the only way to keep them quiet is to hand it over.

"I have a range of apps on it for them to play with from puzzles and games to educational programmes."

The pattern across Britain was found to be largely the same, with mums in Scotland (40%) most likely to entertain their children with a phone, closely followed by Wales (32%), Northern Ireland (30%) and the Midlands (32%).

Samsung Galaxy 3 Mobile Phone displayed at the Samsung Galaxy 3 Mobile Phone launch at Earls Court Exhibition Center, London
"Our customers are demanding more and more from their mobile phones - no longer are they just a device for keeping in touch," said Asda's mobile phone expert David Fletcher.

"To see them also used as an 'electronic pacifier' is no surprise with the large variety of games and entertainment now available to download for children."

A number of mobile apps are available aimed specifically at parents and children, here are a few:

0-10 Numbers Baby Flash Cards - Fun for babies and toddlers, this app teaches young minds their numbers and how to count.

Wheels on the Bus - Winner of multiple awards, this animated and interactive music story book allows children to do things such as spin the wheels and swish the wipers of the bus alongside the happy tunes.

Classic Simon - An updated version of retro classic Simon Says, the app features four colour modes, along with more advanced challenges for older children. It has already racked up 3.5m downloads with an average rating of 3.5 stars.

Steamy Window - Simple, but effective, Steamy Windows steams up the screen of your smartphone and allows kids to make pretty pictures.

iStory Books - Aimed at kids aged two to eight, this app offers various free books complete with text, audio and pictures. New books are added to the app each week.

Mobile apps can be an easy and fun way to entertain children, but be warned. Apple was sued in April in the US after being accused of luring kids with "addictive" free games and apps that can actually prove hugely expensive for the parents.

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