Children spending two to three hours a day viewing screens like tablets and cellphones are struggling with their language and motor skills by the time they start school.

That's according to a new study by the University of Calgary that examined the screen-using habits of almost 2,500 Albertan children over a five year period.

Dr. Sherri Madigan and her team learned children aged two to five were spending between two and three hours per day in front of the TV, tablets, cellphones and computers – all of which hindered their mental growth.

“What the study shows is that when kids are actually watching screen time, they’re actually not getting opportunities to practice those really important developmental skills,” said Madigan.

Experts recommended no screen time for newborns all the way to two-year-olds, and then only one hour per day for kids older than that.

Talking with your children about screen time is constructive, said Madigan adding parents have to be aware and accountable for their own hours spent on phones and tablets.

“You can think of parents as media mentor,” she said, “So if we want to model for our kids’ healthy device habits and healthy device use, then we need to practice that too.”

With files from CTV's Jaclyn Brown