"Parents should actively encourage their children to engage in a range of activities which promote their child's development and give them as much face-to-face time as possible".
One in four Canadian children are not developmentally ready for school by the time they start kindergarten, and a new study suggests excessive screen time may be a key contributor.
These tests included measures of their communication skills (for instance, forming full sentences), gross motor skills (running and walking), fine motor skills (tying shoelaces or copying letters), as well as problem-solving, and personal and social skills (serving themselves food).
Others said a study that followed children over time, rather than just offering a snapshot of development and screen time, was welcome but they noted that the study had limitations, including that it did not consider developments in technology since 2016, or look at which types of screen were being used.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of children 1 to 2 years of age shouldn't exceed one hour of screen time per day.
The amount of time two and three-year-olds devoted to screen-gazing had a negative effect on their performance at three and five.
Other aspects of the child's life, such as their sleep and whether they had books read to them, were also considered.
"Parents can minimise risks if screen time is child-appropriate, has educational content, and viewed together with the child", Tomopoulos, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email.
On average children spent about 17 hours a week in front of screens at two years old, increasing to nearly 25 hours a week at three years, before falling to 11 hours a week at five years of age.
The authors urged health professionals to work with families to develop "personalised media plans" created to place boundaries on children's screen time.
The team explains that there are possibly two ways in which the screen time could affect the children.
Could this time be taking away from their early physical and mental development?
Most mothers were white (77.8%), married (82%), and had household incomes over $80,000 (66%), while slightly less than half of the children in the study were boys (47.9%). But before you conclude that this proves how such devices are bad, the study goes into detail on the link between screen time and learning.
Dr Max Davie, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health agreed other factors had a larger impact on how children fared. From motor skills to social interaction to cognitive development, kids only learn these through actual human contact and physical activities, not from watching the same on YouTube.
"Most of the research on children and screens has been cross-sectional, meaning that associations are based on a particular snapshot in time and don't reveal if there are lasting influences of screen time on children's outcomes", Madigan said.