Young children who spend time on handheld devices such as smartphones, tablets and electronic games are likely to experience speech delays, a new study has said.
In the study presented at the annual Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in San Francisco on Thursday, researchers from the University of Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto found that the more time children between the ages of six months and two years spent on handheld screens, the higher risk of speech delays they will experience.
Collecting the amounts of time of nearly 900 children spent using screens in minutes per day, scientists used an infant-toddler checklist and a validated screening tool to assess the children's language development.
Then they found that every 30 minutes of daily screen time will lead to a 49-percent increased risk of delayed speech.
"Handheld devices are everywhere these days," Dr. Catherine Briken said. Infants should be able to communicate in simply sentences at the age of two to three, but those who spent the most time on handheld screens were found to struggle with communication skills.
It was the first study to show an association between handheld screen time and increased risk of expressive language delay, Briken said, adding that much more research was needed to help parents and clinicians confront the problem.