Are digital media devices harmful to children?

Tablet device / file photo

Parents aren't the only ones using digital media devices like smartphones and iPads these days, their kids are too.

A new study by the group Common Sense Media finds digital media devices are quickly becoming a part of children TMs worlds.

The study found 40 percent of 2- to 4-year-olds, and 52 percent of 5- to 8-year-olds have used smartphones, iPods, iPads or similar devices. Even infants are getting in on the new media craze.

Researchers found 10 percent of those under the age of one have handled a digital media device. According to the study, on any given day 11 percent of all children up to age 8 are spending on average 43 minutes watching videos, playing games or using other apps.

While there is no question that young children are embracing new media, there is some question as to the impact it has on their development.

Dr. Thomas Welch, Medical Director at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital, says too much time spent in front of any type of screen may hinder a child's social skills. "It's not only something that they're neurologically not ready to do, it also really takes away from the development of the social skills and communication skills that are so vital at that age," he says.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents limit a child TMs exposure to digital media devices. Dr. Welch says limiting screen time can also have physical benefit. "We know very well that there is a strong correlation between children being overweight and having high blood pressure and the amount of time spent in front of the screen," he says.

Do you think devices like iPads are helpful or harmful to a child's development?

Click here to see the study on the use of digital media devices and children.